The Bulls are playing quite well right now, and their 5th straight win was their most dominant. The lead got up 37 at one point over the Nuggets, rendering the whole 4th quarter pointless and ending with a 117-89 victory.
For a team that usually struggles to score, the Bulls have gotten off to very strong starts in these wins, and Friday night was actually the 7th straight game they have led by double-digits in the opening quarter. The Nuggets defense was abysmal (Randy Foye at PG, and a Hickson/Faried frontcourt, yikes) and the Bulls took advantage, with Jimmy Butler having an early 8 points himself before suffering a rib injury that knocked him out the rest of the game.
As it happens in ThibsBall: next man up. Tony Snell wound up with 10 first-half points of his own on 4-5 shooting, part of a 13-0 2nd quarter run playing SF alongside Hinrich and Augustin (who once again was on fire from three, 5-7 for the night) that blew the game open early. The Bulls had a season-high 69 points at halftime. The Bulls!
The ESPN broadcast mentioned the Nuggets came out late from halftime as they were getting a scoldin' from their coach Brian Shaw. They did dig in a little bit to start the half, and were actually quite proficient from three themselves at 46%, getting the deficit to 14 in the 3rd quarter. But they could not stop the Bulls, who were really pushing the ball off of every miss and getting results. Snell again was key with drawing a flagrant foul, and his shot-clock bailout 3 had the lead back over 25. The Bulls shot 10-17 from three tonight.
Snell was the 'story', given he's only played a few non-Butler minutes lately and wound up with 36 minutes and 20 points (and looking over the box score...2 steals and not much else, which is a Snell trait too), but there were obviously a lot of other contributors. Hinrich and Augustin were both great again, Noah was his usual self (14, 11, and 5 this time), Taj had 15 and 10 on 50% shooting. Nazr Mohammed had 2 first-half field goals and yet another 'lesson given' as he grabbed/talked to Timofey Mozgov.
Big Macs were had at the 9:45 mark. The end of the bench even played the final few minutes.
The Nuggets are piling up losses lately, reeling from injuries and according to their coach after the game a lack of pride and effort. The Bulls may be shorthanded again in the next few games, but don't lack that fortitude, and will probably need it in Miami on Sunday afternoon.