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An older lineup no help to Bulls
With one much-agonized decision, Bill Cartwright increased the average age of the starting lineup from 22.4 to 25 on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, Cartwright's insertion of Donyell Marshall and Eddie Robinson for Eddy Curry and Trenton Hassell couldn't change recent fortunes.
In their final attempt to snap a four-year drought on the annual extended November trip, the Bulls trailed from opening tip to final buzzer Saturday as Dallas prevailed 103-90.
The Mavericks, who began this season with 14 consecutive victories, have a new win streak after losing to Indiana on Thanksgiving.
The Bulls merely have an old losing streakthe annual November trip that will sit at 27 games until the circus takes up residence at the United Center next season. The Bulls also have now lost 10 straight road games this season, six games overall.
27, 10 and six.
Typically, that's shorthand for an impressive line, as in 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Now, it's merely the Bulls' sad streak totals. For good measure, the Bulls also have now lost 10 straight to Dallas.
Cartwright said he made the lineup change to improve the Bulls' slow startsa problem area all seasonand that its status isn't permanent.
"We need to rebound better to start," he said. "And I felt by bringing Eddie in, that would give us a little better outside shooting. But we could change around next game. I don't know."
The Bulls trailed 31-21 after the first quarter. They fell behind by as many as 16 before pulling to within 73-68 in a third quarter in which Jalen Rose scored 11 points and Marshall had nine.
But Dallas, led by Steve Nash's 18 points, opened the fourth with a 7-0 run as the Bulls failed to score until Rose hit two free throws with 8 minutes 57 seconds left.
Rose led the Bulls with 31 points.
Robinson reacted to his 13th career Bulls start in mellow fashion, a contrast to his public outburst Nov. 13 in Milwaukee that helped lead to his increase in playing time.
"Starting is what I wanted," Robinson said. "There's no more pressure. There's pressure when I'm out there with the second unit."
Robinson finished with six points and eight rebounds. Marshall had 20 points and nine rebounds, while Curry played just 12 minutes and didn't score.
Dallas activated Raef LaFrentz and Nick Van Exel before the game. Van Exel, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Nov. 11, scored 17 points.
Mass confusion reigned with 1:10 remaining before halftime when scoreboard lights began flashing inside American Airlines Center and a taped announcement asked people to evacuate the building because of an emergency.
Play stopped and fans rapidly exited in an orderly fashion. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban came to the scorer's table, where building security, Dallas police officers and game officials huddled.
After a five-minute delay, the situation was blamed on a false fire alarm. Fans returned to their seats. Action resumed.
Insert your own punch line about how hot the 15-1 Mavericks are. After all, the Bulls' situation could use some levity.