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Bulls give up late 12-point lead, fall to Mavericks

Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki launches his go-ahead three-pointer Saturday against Bulls. He finished with 35 points. | Danny Bollinger~AP

Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki launches his go-ahead three-pointer Saturday against the Bulls. He finished with 35 points. | Danny Bollinger~AP

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SUNDAY

PISTONS
AT BULLS

The facts: 6, Ch. 9, 1000-AM.

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Updated: May 30, 2013 5:27PM



DALLAS — There wasn’t much that wasn’t falling Saturday for Bulls guard Nate Robinson.

But the one he needed to go down?

‘‘Didn’t happen,’’ Robinson said after the Bulls’ 100-98 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center.

And just like that, Robinson’s
heroics went to waste.

Despite a 25-point game in which he made all seven of his three-pointers, Robinson missed a 20-footer at the horn. That enabled the Mavericks to escape with the victory after trailing by nine in the last 21/2 minutes.

But Robinson wasn’t the only Bulls player dealing with missed opportunities. Swingman Jimmy Butler blamed himself.

Clinging to a one-point lead with 27 seconds left, the Bulls inbounded the ball and eventually got it into the hands of a driving Butler. He was fouled hard by the Mavericks’ Vince Carter, and it originally was called a flagrant foul. The referees reviewed the play, though, and ruled it only a two-shot foul. Butler missed both, giving the ball back to the Mavericks with a chance at a final shot.

That set the stage for Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, whose three-pointer with 2.9 seconds left put the Mavericks ahead 100-98. ­Nowitzki scored 35 points, going 5-for-6
from beyond the three-point line.

Butler praised Nowitzki but said the blame started with him.

‘‘I’m not going to say I was nervous because I was really confident,’’ Butler said. ‘‘I’m supposed to be a good free-thrower shooter [at 84 percent], [but] I step up and miss two. I don’t care what anyone says, that’s the reason we lost the game. I couldn’t care less what my teammates say, I know better. If I would have made those two, we would have been up three, and then we just make them go to the basket. This one is on me without a doubt. That’s that.

‘‘[Nowitzki’s] a great [bleeping] player. He hits a lot of big shots.
Contested, off-balance, off one leg, he’s a real hard person to guard. You’ve just got to challenge every shot and make it as difficult as
possible.’’

For Nowitzki, it was another day at the office. It was the 12th time in his career he made a game-winning shot with less than 10 seconds left.

‘‘It didn’t look good [when we were] down by 12,’’ Nowitzki said. ‘‘We had to speed up the game. We were able to get some quick scores, and that’s what you need when you’re down.’’

Also buried in the loss for the Bulls was Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer joining Robinson with 25 points apiece. Boozer was an especially tough matchup early on, scoring 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting in the first half.

‘‘As I have mentioned before, he’s sort of been a lightning rod for us,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said of Boozer. ‘‘He gets blamed for everything. But when you really look at what he does for our team, he’s contributed a lot to winning over the last three years. He’s done a very good job for us.’’

The Bulls (39-32) didn’t have time to put their heads down, with a game Sunday against the Detroit Pistons at the United Center.

‘‘We’ve got to learn from this
and get ready,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘That’s it.’’



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