Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah dunks during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: December 28, 2013 11:14PM
Coach Tom Thibodeau said it was his fault.
After all, watching his team fall behind by 27 in the first half hasn’t happened often during his four-year tenure with the Bulls.
Forward Taj Gibson blamed the players, not Thibodeau. They were told in the practices and film sessions leading up to the game against the Mavericks how to defend the three-pointer and simply didn’t “follow orders.’’
But center Joakim Noah summed up the embarrassing 105-83 loss Saturday night with just the perfect amount of finger-pointing.
“Overall, it was just everybody,’’ Noah said. “We didn’t play well offensively, we didn’t play well defensively and we’ve got to do a better job. We will.’’
It sounded like an empty promise for a team that hasn’t won three in a row since mid-November. So the momentum that was building after back-to-back victories is history.
“Yeah, I’m surprised, but that’s [what happens] when you start feeling too good about yourself,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘Someone smacks you; that’s a part of the NBA. Humble beginnings, I’ll tell you. You’ve just got to bounce back, but we’ve got to do our job. [Thibodeau] told us what to do, and at times we did it, but at times we didn’t do it, and that hurt us.’’
The Bulls didn’t realize there was a three-point contest going on. Dallas seemed to be the only team that received the invitation.
The Mavericks (13-for-26 on three-pointers) went 3-for-3 from three-point range in the first quarter and were 7-for-13 in the first half.
“One, you’ve got to give them credit,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘They played well; they shot well. They’re a terrific offensive team. They get their confidence early, you’re in for a long night. The defense initially was pretty good, but then we got called for some fouls, and I thought we softened up. When we softened up, I thought they got some rhythm. We can’t do that.
“We still have to play hard, and we still have to play hard without fouling. Usually we’re very good with that. We’re very disciplined in terms of the way we have to play.’’
They were disciplined in the fourth quarter, going on a 16-0 run to inject some intrigue into a sleeper. But in cutting the lead from 30 to 14, there wasn’t a big enough shovel to dig out of the hole.
Noah led the Bulls (11-17) with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Monta Ellis paced the Mavericks with 22 points, and Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 apiece.
“A team that can shoot threes like that, they can open up the game on you pretty quick,’’ Thibodeau said. “I thought that hurt us. The intensity on both ends against a team that’s so good offensively, you have to have an edge from start to finish. That part was on me. I’ve got to have us ready at the start of the game to really grind.’’