All the signs were there this would happen. But the Bulls have conditioned us to expect them to be able to overcome nearly anything. But tonight stuck to the script: they came into Denver a bit less battered but certainly not at full strength, and the Nuggets continued their home dominance in an absolute destruction. The final score is ugly: 128-96 defeat. Most points given up in the Thibodeau era.
In the first half, the Bulls gave up a season high 63 points sparked by a 67% shooting first quarter. Kenneth Faried was getting to every offensive rebound, hitting his first 8 shots (nearly all dunks) and finishing 9/10 with 21 points and 12 rebounds. We're used to Noah and Taj being energy-fueled big men, but Faried had it at another level tonight. Then on the outside it was Wilson Chandler's 5-5 three-pointers which really killed the Bulls.
All that said, they were within 5 at the end of the half behind some surprisingly good three-point shooting of their own. 7/11 in the half led by Nate Robinson with a couple from Jimmy Butler and Daquean Cook, who received some burn with Marco Belinelli sitting with an ankle injury. Speaking of injuries, Joakim Noah did return tonight after missing 3 with plantar fasciitis but did not look great.
There was a lot of that 'not great' tonight, especially in a 3rd quarter where the Bulls were outscored 37-16. The Bulls were not only turning over the ball but nearly all of them led to dunks from the running Nuggets. It was getting to an embarrassing level, with JaVale McGee putting up several spectacular finishes.
The 4th quarter was rendered meaningless, and at least it meant the starters did get some rest. They play Utah in 24 hours.