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Luka Doncic's Mavs Dominate Bulls to Sweep Eastern Conference Road Trip

The Mavs achieved a dominant victory over the Bulls to sweep a two-game Eastern Conference road trip and achieve a third consecutive win.
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CHICAGO — Ending a two-game Eastern Conference road trip, the Dallas Mavericks (37-28) faced off against the Chicago Bulls (31-34) on Monday night. After jumping out to a massive early lead, the Mavs went on to achieve a 127-92 victory, extending the team's winning streak to three straight. The Mavs held the Bulls to the lowest opponent-scoring total of the season while achieving their second consecutive wire-to-wire win.

This contest featured a head-to-head showdown between the reigning Eastern and Western Conference Player of the Week, including DeMar DeRozan and Luka Doncic. Both players were announced as the recipients of the honor hours before tipoff. 

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls

Doncic led the Mavs with an impressive 27 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds, with his performance ending early due to the lopsided score. He achieved his seventh consecutive triple-double and his 17th total of the season. While he no longer continued his NBA record streaks for consecutive triple-doubles while scoring at least 35 points or 30 points, he tied Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson for the most 20-point triple-doubles in a row with seven. 

“It's about winning to him,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “Numbers, I don't know if they really mean anything to him today. But when he does retire, he'll look back to see the game that he was playing was at a different level than anybody else.”

The Mavs received incredibly efficient scoring production from Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II. In the starting role, Gafford totaled 20 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, shooting 9-9 from the floor, continuing his ongoing streak of making 28 shots in a row — trailing only Wilt Chamberlain's 35 makes in a row achieved in 1967. Lively came off the bench, adding 22 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, going 11-12 on his shot attempts. They became the first pair of teammates to score over 20 points while shooting 95.0 percent from the floor since 2008. 

“My philosophy for sure is just being consistent, having a mindset of just going to finish everything no matter if there's somebody in front of you or if there isn't somebody in front of you,” Gafford said. “At the end of the day, either dunking it or putting it in the rim.”

Dallas received 14 points and three rebounds from Kyrie Irving, with Jaden Hardy being the team's only other double-figure scorer, adding 11 points in his nearly seven minutes of action. Despite shooting 13-41 (31.7 percent) from the perimeter, the Mavs went 51-93 (54.8 percent) from the floor, specifically 38-52 (73.1 percent) from inside the arc. The team shot an efficient 12-15 (80.0 percent) from the free-throw line, along with committing only six turnovers collectively. 

It was a dominant first-quarter performance from the Mavs, resulting in a staggering 44-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. Dallas led 17-10 early but went on to outscore Chicago by a staggering 27-4 margin for the rest of the period. Doncic already totaled 15 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Lively had totaled 10 points and three rebounds. 

Doncic frequently took advantage of the Bulls' slower-footed centers — Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond — by either connecting with Lively or Gafford for finishes leveraging his athleticism or getting to the step-back 3 after drawing switches. Everything was clicking at a high level early for Dallas.

“We gave up a lot of rolls to the basket and offensive rebounds,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “We've got to be more pulled in than we were. ... We kind of were too worried with getting back out to that 3-point line instead of saying, hey, we're gonna take away the roll."

Getting off to a strong start, the Mavs scored the game's initial five points before leading 17-7 at the first timeout with 7:11 remaining in the opening period. Soon, it was 23-12 with 5:03 left. Dallas never looked back for the remainder of the period as Doncic connected with Lively for finishes on three consecutive field goals. Then Doncic picked on Drummond for back-to-back step-back 3-pointers after drawing switches. With Josh Green hitting a buzzer-beating 3 to end the period, Dallas was up 44-16 at the end of the opening period.

The Bulls began the second quarter on a 7-0 run, but couldn't build on the early momentum. The Mavs reached the 50-point mark with 7:03 left in the second quarter after the Bulls failed to contain Gafford in the paint for a dunk. Doncic checked back in with 5:38 left before halftime, with the Mavs up 52-28.

After DeRozan finished at the rim to open the second half, the Bulls briefly reduced the Mavs' lead to 18, but the Mavs immediately responded. After a throw-ahead pass to Lively in transition for a dunk followed by a step-back 3-pointer from Doncic, the Mavs took a 32-point lead over the Bulls late in the third quarter. 

Doncic and Irving were on the floor to begin the fourth quarter, with the game continuing to be too out of reach for the Bulls to make any sort of rallying effort. The Slovenian superstar entered the period already having a triple-double but needed six more points to keep his streak of 30-point triple-doubles alive. 

Irving converted a jumper at the nail with 7:23 left in regulation, extending the Mavs' advantage to 111-76 over the Bulls, prompting Chicago to call a timeout. Doncic, who had 27 points, missed a few step-back 3-pointers before checking out of the game for the final time with 6:09 left to play, ending his two historic streaks. 

"Luka's setting records and it becomes tough when you are trying to win the game," Kidd said. "You're also trying to be respectful of the situation, so to try to get him 30 [points], because this is something that's never been done before, also not putting him in a position to get hurt."

Looking ahead, the Mavs will take on the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday when returning to the American Airlines Center for one game.