DALLAS -- Never mind the Mavericks’ miserable offensive performance. It’s the ridiculous rebounding disparity that will keep coach Rick Carlisle from sleeping once the team arrives at its Atlanta hotel at about 4 a.m.
Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah combined to grab more rebounds than the Mavs in Chicago’s 88-83 win Friday night at the American Airlines Center. Add in the rest of the Bulls and the battle of the boards was especially embarrassing.
The Mavs will win some games in which they shoot only 40 percent from the floor, as was the case in their third home loss of the young season despite Dirk Nowitzki’s season-high 36-point performance. They probably won’t win any in which they get their butts kicked on the glass by a 59-34 margin.
“You’re just tempting fate too much,” Carlisle said. “When that happens, plays like the Gibson heave at the end of the clock, those go in.”
Carlisle was referring to Gibson’s shot-clock buzzer-beating 3-pointer with 2:37 remaining, which erased the Mavs’ last lead of the night. He picked up a loose ball 25 feet from the hoop and swished the first 3-point attempt of his career.
That accounted for three of the Bulls’ 25 second-chance points, more than triple the Mavs’ total. The Bulls had 13 points off second opportunities in the fourth quarter alone.
“We just absolutely got crushed on the glass,” said Nowitzki, who blamed himself for allowing Gibson to grab a career-high 18 rebounds. “I don’t actually think our defense was that bad. We forced them into tough shots. We’ve just got to come up with loose balls.
“It seemed like they played harder. They wanted it more. Once you do that, you let a team hang around and they get some lucky bounces.”
Part of the Mavs’ problem was that they had to play a lot of zone defense to prevent Chicago point guard Derrick Rose from killing them with penetration. That often results in rebounding mismatches and missed boxouts. With Rodrigue Beaubois wearing a suit and tie on the bench, the Mavs just don’t have anybody quick enough to defend explosive point guards one-on-one.
The Mavs have managed to be a decent rebounding team this season despite playing a lot of zone. But the athletic, energetic Bulls exposed the zone’s flaws and the Mavs’ mistakes.
“It makes it tougher if you don’t stick to your assignment,” said center Tyson Chandler, who led the Mavs with 10 rebounds. “We have the opportunity to be a good zone defensive team. I think percentage-wise, it’s been good for it. But what we have to do is finish the plays out.”
Added Carlisle: “Unfortunately, that is how you can lose games.”