The Chicago Bulls’ 13-point second quarter set them up for a 112-94 loss to the Denver Nuggets Thursday night, but it didn’t start out that way.
The game was fast-paced from the start, and the score remained close for the first quarter. The Bulls took a five-point lead, 19-14, later on into the quarter, but the Nuggets came back to cut their deficit to one, 21-20.
The Nuggets took that momentum into the second quarter and got out to the early lead. The Bulls wouldn’t score until the 8:33 mark of the period when Kirk Hinrich found Doug McDermott for a three, but even that couldn’t get them going again. The Nuggets ended up going on an 11-0 run until the Bulls were prompted to take a timeout.
But that timeout didn’t stop the Nuggets’ momentum either. Instead, Denver’s 11-0 run turned into a 19-0 run. It wasn’t until the 4:22 mark of the period that the Bulls scored again: a Nikola Mirotic three assisted by Hinrich. At that point, though, the Bulls had dug themselves into a 46-27 deficit, and they failed to get going for the remainder of the quarter. The Bulls did go on a 4-0 run, but it didn’t amount to much with the Nuggets responding with a 6-0 run of their own.
Come halftime, the Bulls trailed 57-34, and it was largely thanks to their 13 turnovers and 31.0 percent field goal percentage. The Nuggets, however, had shot 51.2 percent in the first half.
It never got better from there for the Bulls. They continued to be stagnant on offense, wouldn’t move the ball well, settled for too many jumpers and played sloppily. The Bulls also sat Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah for the entirety of the second half, so that made their comeback harder to make.
The Bulls, however, managed to start the third quarter on a strong note. They scored eight points to open the period, which led the Nuggets to call a timeout, but it still wouldn’t amount to anything. They still couldn’t get defensive stops and go on a run necessary to cut their deficit. Their field goal percentage increased a bit to 34.4 percent from the 31.0 percent the Bulls shot in the first half, and they even won the rebounding battle 59-42, but it was their turnovers that really hurt them. The Nuggets only had 12 turnovers while the Bulls had nearly double with 22.
Mirotic led the Bulls with 18 points on 8-for-15 shooting in 22 minutes. He also added four rebounds, one assist and two steals. McDermott followed with an efficient 15 points on 5-for-10 from the field that came in 36 minutes — the most playing time for any Bull Thursday. Rookie Bobby Portis had the lone double-double of the game with 10 points and 16 boards.
The Bulls play again on Saturday in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at 7 p.m. central to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.