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Bench, ‘D’ key as Bulls bounce back from crushing loss with 101-78 win over Mavs

Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich jumps redirect shot attempt by Dallas guard Dominique Jones first quarter Chicago Bulls-Dallas Mavericks NBA game

Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich jumps to redirect a shot attempt by Dallas guard Dominique Jones in the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls-Dallas Mavericks NBA game Wednesday November 28, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 30, 2012 4:06PM



Suggestions for hangover remedies are vast. Plenty of water, greasy foods, the hair of the dog, etc.

The best remedy for blowing a 27-point lead in an eventual one-point loss?

After the Bulls’ heart-breaking defeat to Milwaukee on Monday, hours of Tom Thibodeau preaching “know your job, do your job,’’ and “we have to work on improving every day,’’ seems to have done the trick.

Thanks to lock-down defense in the fourth quarter and key contributions off the bench, the Bulls bounced back against Dallas Wednesday, dismantling the Mavericks 101-78 at the United Center.

Lesson learned.

“It’s like a drill instructor,’’ forward Taj Gibson said of what Thibodeau’s been reiterating since the loss to the Bucks. “Every day we go over the same stuff, but eventually it’s going to click. Even like that tough loss, we’ve just got to learn to close games out better and never underestimate anybody. We just got to roll over and take it. Like [Thibodeau] said, we messed up, he messed up, we learn from it and move on.’’

Not that the Bulls (7-7) didn’t have a little déjà vu working for them.

It was at the 2:50 mark of the third quarter against Milwaukee that the Bulls were up 27 points. Against the Mavs (7-9), they were up 16 at the 2:50 mark of the third but made sure they would hold on.

More importantly, three of the suddenly maligned bench players were on the court at the time, with Nate Robinson, Gibson and Jimmy Butler getting the important minutes that were played so poorly two nights earlier.

“It shows you that you have to bounce back,’’ Butler said. ‘‘Games come and go quickly. Taj told us, ‘Yo, don’t pay attention to what anybody says, just go out there and play your game, stick together and don’t turn your back on one another, and then we’ll pull one out at the end.’ ’’

The group with Butler stretched the lead to 19 heading into the fourth quarter.

Thibodeau must have been feeling confident about his bench, reaching down to get quality minutes from Marco Belinelli and Nazr Mohammed. Belinelli scored 11 points in 16 minutes of play after logging just over nine minutes in his previous three games played combined, and a “Did Not Play — Coach’s Decision’’ the last game.

“I was so mad,’’ Belinelli admitted of his one-game benching. “If you care about the team and care about playing basketball, you have to be mad. First and foremost, because we lost that game. I just have to come on the court and be more aggressive on defense and on offense.

“Now I have to keep playing that way, keep it going.’’

Belinelli’s not alone in that sentiment.



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