CHICAGO IL - JANUARY 20: Derrick Rose #1 and Kurt Thomas #40 of the Chicago Bulls battle for a rebound with Brendan Haywood #33 of the Dallas Mavericks at the United Center on January 20 2011 in Chicago Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Mavericks 82-77. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

NBA Scores And More: Derrick Rose, Bulls Defense Chokes Mavericks

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Mavericks Vs. Bulls: Derrick Rose, Chicago Defense Chokes Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas

The Dallas Mavericks, fresh off an excellent win over the L.A. Lakers, lost track of their offense once again and fell to the Chicago Bulls 82-77 on Thursday night. The Mavericks had an offensive efficiency of 129.6 against the Lakers, but just 91.1 against the Bulls. Chicago's defense is better than that of L.A., but not by that much.

Dirk Nowitzki struggled again as Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik held the former MVP to 6-16 shooting and just 19 points. Deng in particular was marvelous in Tom Thibodeau's smallball lineups, forcing Nowitzki, a master of tough shot, into impossible shots. While Deng didn't score much (seven points, all in the first quarter) he was a major factor, if not the major factor in the Bulls' win. I'm not sure anyone has ever overestimated Deng's value to the Bulls' No. 1 defense. Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett are so great defensively because they combine amazing physical attributes (size, length and athleticism) with knowledge and commitment. Deng does the same thing, much more quietly and at, perhaps, a more challenging position, given the current make-up of the league.

Dirk's teammates rarely fared better, with Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Terry each totaling 12 points, only Chandler shooting efficiently among them. Dallas' bench -- Terry, Brendan Haywood, Jose Barea and Shawn Marion -- shot a combined 8-28.

Of course, this was a close, contested game throughout, and the Mavericks' defense (combined with a still-weird Bulls offense) held Chicago's efficiency way down. Derrick Rose was the only Bull in double-figures, which is amazing. (Perhaps it's not surprising, given that Deng was limited by some pretty bad shooting. It's still amazing.) Rose scored 26, but he needed 28 field goal attempts and six free throws to get there. That's not good, and that the Bulls survived the Dallas defense shows just how incredible Chicago's resistance has been this season. Rose scored as much as his other four starters combined, the Chicago bench hardly fared better and ... the Bulls won, against a good team. Great defenses don't take nights off, and I think Chicago fits that definition right now.

Mavs Moneyball finds it a tough pill to swallow that Dallas' defensive effort has gone wasted. Blog-a-Bull credits Rose for squeezing out enough offense to keep Chicago in the win column.

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Clippers Vs. Blazers: Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon Can't Overcome Portland's Own Inside-Out Combo

The Portland Trail Blazers, wounded as ever, pulled off a 108-93 home win over the L.A. Clippers on Thursday night. The Blazers were on the second night of a back-to-back, sweeping both games despite the loss earlier this week of Marcus Camby, the team's starting center.

The team already relied on stud power forward LaMarcus Aldridge a whole lot, but now he's been asked to play center quite a lot, or at least help with center duties as a guy like Dante Cunningham mans the position. But Aldridge has always seemed to do anything Portland has asked of him. Against Blake Griffin and the Clippers, Aldridge had 28 points and eight rebounds. Griffin shot just 6-17 as opponents continue to work to prevent him from assaulting the rim. But he finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds nonetheless.

This game was a peek into the battle All-Star reserve voters, also known as Western Conference coaches, will face in the coming weeks between Aldridge and Griffin. They've both played great, but unless Tim Duncan gets snubbed and depending on how much consideration Kevin Love gets, there's likely only one spot left in the frontcourt. Griffin's been more of a star this season, but Aldridge is one of the few things keeping the 24-20 Blazers afloat. It's a conundrum.

The forwards each had some wonderful backcourt help on Thursday, with Eric Gordon rattling off 35 points, 21 of which came on his 7-11 three-point shooting to keep L.A. in striking distance most of the night. On the other side, Wes Matthews scored 28 points on 10-18 shooting, while Andre Miller had seven assists. Portland's defense on everyone but Gordon was rather good; even without Camby, Portland was able to force L.A. to take shots it didn't want to.

Blazersedge really digs into Portland's defensive gameplan against Griffin and Gordon. Clips Nation reports that the Blazers did as well on Griffin defensively as anyone had in months.

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76ers Vs. Bobcats: D.J. Augustin Goes Ballistic On Philadelphia In Charlotte Win

D.J. Augustin scored 31 points and had eight rebounds as the Charlotte Bobcats edged the Philadelphia 76ers 100-97 on Thursday. Augustin shot 11-17 from the floor and 6-6 from the line in one of the best performances of his nascent NBA career. With the win, Charlotte took a slight lead over the Sixers and Pacers for the No. 7 spot in the East.

The game wasn't exactly the defensive struggle you'd expect. The Bobcats shot 48 percent and the teams combined for just 17 turnovers. Philly didn't hit as many shots; the Sixers' own young point guard, Jrue Holiday, hit just six of his 17 shots for 13 points.

Would you believe we nearly had another four-point play in crunch time? Late, with the Bobcats up three, Gerald Henderson fouled Andre Iguodala on a three-point attempt. Iguodala's shot missed, and the star wing hit just two of the three from the line, preserving a Charlotte lead and stemming, for now, the nation's four-pointer outbreak. (The Magic hit two of them on Wednesday en route to a win.)

This win was quite big for the Bobcats in terms of the tight and slightly depressing playoff race in the East, as Tyrus Thomas will be out eight weeks to recover from knee surgery. Charlotte needs to count every win a blessing, as Thomas has been Charlotte's best player, even in a bench role.

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