(MCT) — CHICAGO — About the only thing missing Wednesday night from the Bulls’ 101-78 victory over the Mavericks 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 against the Mavs.
“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 the starters still have a pulse. But for at least one night, the reserves were the story for positive reasons.
“Every day, we’re getting better at new aspects,” Gibson said. “Games like (Monday), if you dwell on them, it hurts you the next game.”
Robinson’s 14 points led the Bulls’ 50-34 edge in bench points. Butler added a career-high 13 points. Gibson finished with eight points and eight rebounds. Belinelli, who didn’t play last game, contributed 11 points. And Mohammed, who hadn’t played the last three games, added the dunk that put the Bulls over the century mark for free fast-food sandwiches for the fans, five rebounds and two blocks.
“Jimmy has been playing very well all along,” Thibodeau said. “Taj the last few games has played very well. Nate has had some very good games and not so good games. Nazr is a pro and stays ready. Because they’re big, I thought the matchups were good for him. Marco knocked down some shots which gave us a big lift.”
The Bulls also flashed stout defense, holding the Mavericks to 34.6 percent shooting. O.J. Mayo, who entered averaging a team-high 20.8 points, managed a season-low four points on 2-for-9 shooting.
The Mavericks also entered averaging 16.3 fast-break points but scored just six in transition.
The blowout allowed all 12 Bulls to see action. And, yes, that meant even Vladimir Radmanovic, who, in lieu of Brian Scalabrine-type chants, drew cheers when he laid in a sweet pass from Butler late.
“I have the belief that we can get it done,” Thibodeau said. “When you go back and look at all the games this season, we’ve been in position to win. With the exception of the Clippers game, every game has been there to be had.”
The Bulls seized one on Wednesday.