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Taj Gibson, who had a rough two games before Friday, battles Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki at the basket.


DALLAS -- To win on the road against a quality opponent, a team usually needs to eliminate -- or at least drastically reduce -- mistakes, especially the silly, unforced ones.

The Bulls didn't do that Friday night. They made bad offensive plays, blew a few defensive assignments and had multiple lulls.

But it didn't matter as they used a huge rebounding advantage to rally from 12 points down in the second half for an 88-83 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.

''I thought we kept fighting,'' Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''I thought we were aggressive against their zone. We didn't settle for all jump shots.''

Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 22 points, but the key to the game was the dominance in the paint down the stretch by Taj Gibson (17 points, career-high 18 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (10 points, 17 rebounds). The Bulls had a 59-34 rebounding edge, and Gibson and Noah combined had one more rebound than all of the Mavericks.

It was a nice bounce-back game for Gibson, who was 1-for-16 in the first two games of the road trip.

''It was a pretty amazing job the way he played tonight,'' Thibodeau said. ''The rebounding effort, real aggressive to start the game in the post. Eighteen rebounds in 28 minutes -- a great job.''

The Bulls (7-4) won two of three games in Texas and head to Los Angeles with momentum.

However, the start of the second half continues to be an area of concern. The Bulls had led by 10 points and were up by eight with a minute and a half left in the second quarter. But they came out flat to start the third, just as they did against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

Dallas opened the third quarter with a 15-2 run to take a 50-41 advantage. The Mavericks scored the final four points of the second quarter, so their total run was 19-2.

At that point, it looked like the Bulls were headed for another loss, a lopsided one, but they made a 13-2 run to close to 57-56 in the final minute of the third quarter.

The Mavs took a 59-56 lead in the fourth quarter and appeared to have regained control when they led 65-58 in the fourth. But the Bulls kept fighting and regained the lead midway though the fourth with a series of big plays down the stretch to pull away.

One big play was a three-pointer by Gibson on a heave as the shot clock was about to expire. That gave the Bulls a 79-77 lead with just under three minutes left.

It was Gibson's first three-pointer on any level. Noah later joked that Gibson reacted as if he had scored a soccer goal.

''Taj-y-woo was a beast,'' Noah said. ''I don't think he played that many minutes, but to rebound the way he did and be really aggressive was great.''

JOHN JACKSON

ON THE BULLS

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