DALLAS - The shorthanded Dallas Mavericks fell to the Chicago Bulls, 117-101, in a Sunday matinee game at American Airlines Center... punctuated by a fitting yelp of profanity.
An audible F-bomb bellowed from the Mavs (6-6) team as they left the court for halftime. An understandable frustration after Dallas' erratic offensive showing in the Mavs second loss to the Bulls (5-8) this season.
Four minutes into the game, Luka Doncic had already scored eight of the Mavs' 10 points. Even more impressive, Doncic accounted for 100 percent of the the Mavs points in the first quarter (10 points, 4 assists, 9 points created from assists).
Down 15 points at halftime, Doncic's fireball start was the only good news to report. The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week accounted for 30 of Dallas' 52 first half points. It is the second-most points Doncic has ever scored in the first half (33 vs. Golden State on 11/20/19.)
Doncic notched a triple-double midway through the third quarter, including an outrageous behind-the-back assist to Willie Cauley-Stein for a dunk.
With Doncic's 29th triple-double, the Slovenian star passes Michael Jordan on the all-time triple-doubles list... in Doncic's third season. Doncic finished with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists.
But ... while coach Rick Carlisle called Luka's triple-double "spectacular," he added, without a win, he won't be happy with it, either."
The coach is correct.
"The second half, I played terrible,' Doncic said. "I was being selfish a little bit because I had 30 points in the first half. That wasn't me in the second half."
The Mavs were without Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell... six of Dallas' 10 top scorers.
Dallas' defense at times remained stout, as the Mavs held Zach LaVine and Coby White to a combined six points in the first half. The Mavs own the best three-point defense in the league, holding opponents to 31.6 percent from beyond the arc. ... but there were leaks. Example: Lauri Markkanen led the Bulls with 25 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists.
Even with Doncic's spectacular play, the Mavs could not overcome their inconsistent offense in the disappointing defeat.
Side note - Would adding LaVine to the Dallas roster balance things out for the Mavs? It's a DallasBasketball.com pipe-dream trade idea.
Next up, the Mavs travel to play in Toronto tomorrow, kicking off three road games in five days for Dallas. Mavs vs. Raptors tip off is 6:30 p.m. CT Monday.
It's a demanding stretch. Cuss-inducing, even. ... but maybe a rewarding one if Dallas finds itself.
"Our energy wasn't good,'' Kristaps Porzingis said. That wasn't us out there."