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Bulls atone for miserable Monday meltdown

All smiles in Chicago

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Nam Y. Huh)
Bulls center Joakim Noah pulls in a rebound next to Mavericks center Troy Murphy on Wednesday in Chicago.

CHICAGO – About the only thing missing from the Bulls' 101-78 victory over the Mavericks Wednesday night was the United Center faithful breaking out a "Rad-man-o-vic" chant, a la "Scal-a-brine" from seasons past.

Otherwise, the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau responded to Monday's debacle against the Bucks, in which they blew a 27-point lead while riding the starters, with resolve and reserves. Lots and lots of reserves.

Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Nate Robinson and even Marco Belinelli and Nazr Mohammed changed the complexion of the game during a second quarter in which the Bulls outscored the Mavericks 34-19.

On Monday, reserves played a total of 40 minutes, 2 seconds. They played 43:03 in the second quarter alone.

"The bench was great," Thibodeau said. "The starters got us off to a good start. We needed everybody. The defense and rebounding was very good. Overall, I thought we played a lot tougher with the lead."

And, yes, the Bulls led by 27 at one point and by as many as 29.

Luol Deng scored 22 points and Joakim Noah posted his sixth double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds to prove starters still have a pulse. But for at least one night, the reserves were the story for positive reasons.

"I don't think any of them were happy sitting last game," Deng said. "They responded great."

Robinson's 14 points led the Bulls' 50-34 edge in bench points. Butler added a career-high 13 points. Belinelli, who didn't play last game, contributed 11 points.

"If you care about the team and playing basketball, you have to be mad," Belinelli said of not playing Monday. "So I was really mad. We lost and I didn't play. I have to play more aggressive."

Mohammed, who hadn't played the last three games, added five rebounds, two blocks and the dunk that put the Bulls over the century mark for free fast-food sandwiches for the fans. Thibodeau said the Mavericks' big centers were good matchups for the veteran and passionately defended his overall playing-time approach.

"My decisions have to be based on what's best for the team," Thibodeau said. "I've always been that way and I'm not going to change.

"The scoreboard tells you. When a group is maintaining or building a lead, then they're going to play longer. If the lead is not going the right direction, then you have to make adjustments. Everything is based on performance. That's the only way you can do it."

The Bulls also flashed stout defense, holding the Mavericks to 34.6 percent shooting. A nicked-up O.J. Mayo, who entered averaging a team-high 20.8 points, managed a season-low four points on 2-for-9 shooting.

The blowout allowed all 12 Bulls to see action. And, yes, that meant Vladimir Radmanovic, who, in lieu of Brian Scalabrine-type chants, drew cheers when he dropped in a sweet pass from Butler late.

"This was important," Butler said. "We had to bounce back."

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