Bulls bounce back in victory against Mavs, finding a different way to win
The backcourt of Coby White and Zach LaVine combined to score 10 points, but the Bulls played winning basketball in the one-sided affair.
Bulls coach Billy Donovan isn’t about ‘‘I told you so’’ moments.
He isn’t walking around and thumping his chest about being ‘‘a teacher’’ or making sure his players feel that it’s his way or the highway.
Donovan understands winning, and his primary goal is to help his players get to the point where they understand it, too.
So an afternoon game Sunday against the Mavericks in which point guard Coby White went scoreless and shooting guard Zach LaVine went 1-for-8 from the field didn’t spell disaster the way it often would. Far from it.
LaVine had a bad night from the field, but he was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line, handed out 10 assists and had one of his better defensive efforts of the season as the Bulls handled the Mavericks 117-101 in Dallas.
‘‘I think it just speaks to the fact that guys a lot of times rely on, ‘I need to impact the game by scoring; I have to score for us to win,’ and it’s really not true,’’ Donovan said afterward. ‘‘There are other things you can do.
‘‘It should be a satisfying game for a lot of those guys because they didn’t have big scoring nights, and our team played really well. I think we had over 30 assists and scored  points in the first half. If we play as a team and move the basketball and generate the best shot for the group, it’s going to help.
‘‘I’ve said this before: If Zach is scoring, that’s great. If Coby is scoring, that’s great. But if they’re not scoring, that doesn’t mean we can’t win. We have to play the right way. When we make the extra pass, move the ball and the ball finds the open man, we generate good shots. We don’t need to take shots under duress. And I thought we really tried to stay true to that.’’
So who picked up the scoring slack?
Getting 29 points from forward Lauri Markkanen helped, but it was the old guys off the bench who did a lot of the damage, The Bulls got 61 points from their reserves, led by 21 from guard Garrett Temple.
‘‘No question,’’ Temple said when he was asked whether the Bulls’ second unit can be a game-changer. ‘‘The first game I played, we got the bench together before the tipoff, and I told the bench: ‘We can be the best bench in the league because of the experience [and] the talent we have coming off the bench.’ Our team is going to need the bench to play well because we have such a young [starting] unit, and there’s going to be times where we have to help them out.’’
Mission accomplished. Thad Young added 15 points and Otto Porter Jr. 14 off the bench. Luka Doncic had a triple-double, (36 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists), but he was really the only Mavericks player who was a threat.
The most impressive thing about the victory, however, was that it represented a major bounce-back after the Bulls’ 22-point collapse Friday against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
The Bulls limited their turnovers to 13 and made good decisions to keep their double-digit lead after building it this time.
‘‘We have a lot of talented guys on this team that can go off on any night,’’ Markkanen said. ‘‘Of course, Zach and Coby are two scorers that we have on this team. . . . Early on in the year, they’ve been both playing really well.
‘‘I thought they did a really good job of letting the game come to them, not forcing anything, taking what the defense gives them.’’