The last time the Bulls faced the Nuggets, it might have been one of the more frustrating games of the season. Derrick Rose was extremely ineffective as he returned from a hamstring strain and was benched at halftime. The Nuggets would eventually go on to win by five. It looked like we might have been in for a similar game on Thursday night until the Bulls rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to come away with a 106-101 victory.
You can thank Jimmy Butler for getting the Bulls back in it. Butler scored 15 of his 26 points in the period to finally give the Bulls' a reliable scoring option. With Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol missing a ton of shots early (they combined to go 4-for-18 in the first half), Butler's offense was badly needed. Jimmy was all over the floor as usual, making all nine of his free throw attempts and finishing with eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals on the night. He is a gift that keeps on giving.
Rose was awful for most of the night, but he came through big time when the Bulls needed it. Rose scored 13 in the fourth quarter to save what would have otherwise been another off night. This nasty stepback was the dagger:
On the night, Derrick was 7-for-25 for 17 points and eight assists in 32 minutes. That's a Kobe statline if I've ever seen one, but the Bulls are still so much better with him on the court because he (and Jimmy) are capable of pushing the pace to make plays like this one:
Gasol put up the other eye-popping statline of the night. Gasol finished with 17 points, nine blocks, nine rebounds and four assists on 7-of-17 shooting. It was his career-high for blocks for Gasol and helped the Bulls get the most blocks they've had in franchise history.
Bulls have set franchise record with 18 blocks with 5:43 left vs. Nuggets.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 2, 2015
The way the last three games have gone, it does not feel like the Bulls have won eight of their last nine, but that's exactly what has happened. The Bulls close out the week at home against Boston on Saturday.