With the circus occupying the United Center, the Bulls (3-3) begin a seven-game trip Tuesday with a matchup against a Mavericks team that seems to be back on track after losing its first four games this season.
Since the 1999-2000 season, the Bulls are 4-42 during the circus road trip. Chicago now has the added pressure of facing four teams that were in the playoffs last season, including defending Western Conference champion Dallas, which has beaten the Bulls in 15 of the last 16 meetings.
“They’re all great teams,” said coach Scott Skiles, whose Bulls will play their first three games of the trip in Texas. “It’s a tough trip.”
Chicago’s lone victory in the last 16 matchups with the Mavs did come in Dallas, 107-100 on Feb. 8, 2005, behind a career-high 30 points and 11 rebounds from Luol Deng.
Deng led the Bulls to an 89-80 win over Indiana on Saturday, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
“I’m not sure if you asked me before the season started if I’d feel good about 3-3 or not,” Skiles said. “We’re glad to have this win before we go (on the trip). That’s for sure.”
Ben Wallace had one of his best games since signing with the Bulls in the offseason, grabbing a season-high 18 rebounds and scoring eight points.
“(Wallace’s) a beast in there,” said Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, who scored a game-high 23 points. “He’s always throwing his body around, getting his hands on balls, rebounding, kicking it out and giving us so many extra opportunities. He was definitely huge for us tonight.”
Wallace had 10 of Chicago’s season-high 24 offensive boards.
“For me, I’m just trying to do whatever I can do to help this team win,” Wallace said. “Whether it’s rebound, defend, try to play the passing lanes, try to get stops, whatever. Whatever I can do I’ll do to help this team win.”
The Bulls haven’t won on the road since a 42-point victory over Miami in their season opener. They’ve lost their last two games away from home by a combined 34 points.
The Mavs have bounced back from their poor start to win two straight, including a 103-96 victory at Portland on Sunday.
“We’re still not out of the hole yet,” Terry said. “We have to keep working. We have a long way to go, but we like the direction we’re headed.”
Sunday was just the second time this season the Mavs have held an opponent to fewer than 100 points. Last year, they allowed 93.1 points per game.
“There’s always ups and downs. We just need to be a little more consistent,” Nowitzki said. “I think that comes when you play longer together. As long as the year is, hopefully we’ll get more consistent.”
Nowitzki is averaging 20.5 points in 15 games against Chicago, while Wallace has posted 10.9 rebounds in 16 appearances versus Dallas.