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Bulls vs. Nuggets Game Preview and Open Thread

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big three out again

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls (24-46) vs. Denver Nuggets (38-33)

7 p.m., NBC Chicago Sports Network

Injury Report:

Meanwhile, Nuggets point guard Gary Harris will continue to miss time after hurting his right knee in a game last Thursday.

The Last Time:

As part of the Bulls 10-game losing streak in late November that bled into early December, the Nuggets edged the Bulls 111-110 on some truly pitiful defense at the end of the game.

With about 10 seconds remaining in the contest, Bulls point guard Kris Dunn twisted a right-handed layup through two Denver defenders to give the Bulls a 110-109 advantage. But, Nuggets guard Will Barton answered by driving from the half-court line through the Bulls entire defense for the decisive basket that won the Nuggets the game.

For Barton, this basket represented two of the game-high 37 points he scored off the bench. The Bulls put five players in double figures, but this balanced scoring attack couldn’t neutralize Barton’s offensive explosion.

Preview:

Finding enticing storylines for these previews at this point in the season is like trying to figure out what Doug Collins actually does in his role with the Chicago Bulls. Both are nearly impossible.

I’ve milked the tanking storyline to its death. Although, the Bulls are only 1.5 games behind the Brooklyn Nets right now for the seventh worst record in the NBA which is worth noting.

Last time I previewed a Bulls versus Nuggets matchup, I talked about how Harris and Jusuf Nurkic could have been Chicago Bulls if it weren’t for managements’/Tom Thibodeau’s (there are conflicting stories between the formerly feuding entities) love affair with Doug McDermott. So I can’t complain about that again...

Tonight, like every other night, it’s all about the development of a flurry of young players still trying to gain traction at the NBA level. Maybe Denzel Valentine will go off again like he did against the Cavaliers on Saturday when he dropped 34 points. Maybe Cristiano Felicio will post another career high after pouring in a career-high 17 points against the New York Knicks on Monday. Or maybe it’s Cameron Payne’s or Noah Vonleh’s night to turn it up in the scoring column.

Finally, let’s talk about Nikola Jokic, a young, offensively multi-dimensional NBA unicorn who has averaged 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in his third NBA season. He is one of 10 players who have averaged a double-double this season.

The Nuggets continue to battle for a Western Conference playoff spot (they are currently ninth, but two games behind a red-hot Utah Jazz team that has won nine of its last 10 games) while the Bulls tread water with the eighth worst record in the NBA.

On paper, the Nuggets should win tonight. But, Denzel Valentine or Bobby Portis or an even more unexpected Bulls player may have other ideas.