On the front end of a back-to-back, the Nuggets used a third quarter push to cruise to a 125-107 victory.
The Denver Nuggets cruised to a victory on the road, 125-107 over the Chicago Bulls. Nikola Jokic had a triple-double with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler both cracked 20 points efficiently, and seven Nuggets finished in double figures. They held Jimmy Butler to just 8 points on 3/13 shooting, truly a great game all-around.
Kenneth Faried remained out for the second consecutive game in this one, and the Nuggets started Wilson Chandler in his place. The Nuggets looked off to start this game, as multiple players committed turnovers and got lost on defense. They continued to fight back though, and Danilo Gallinari had six of Denver’s first 12 points in the quarter. The defense performed very well throughout the opening quarter, and it was Nikola Jokic making multiple plays defensively. One player that hurt Denver was Bobby Portis, and Michael Malone subbed in Mason Plumlee to counter. This really helped Jokic, who played very well with Plumlee on both ends. The bench finished the quarter, and while Murray made a nice driving layup, the group couldn’t defend and went down 25-22 after the first.
Plumlee and Gary Harris both really impressed me in the second quarter. On top of showing solid chemistry in the two-man game, Plumlee made a 15-foot jumper and Harris had a great dunk in transition.
Jamal Murray made some plays on both ends as well, and the bench really looked much better this game than last game. Juancho Hernangomez entered the game for the first time in awhile to log meaningful minutes, but the Bulls were hurting Denver in other ways. Will Barton was having a terrible stretch, and when he came out and Jokic subbed in for Plumlee, the Nuggets generated two threes in a row. The group of Nelson-Harris-Chandler-Juancho-Jokic helped bring the Nuggets back within striking distance, and each player had a role. The Bulls continued to offensive rebound and run after every Nuggets miss though, which killed Denver. It was 59-56 Chicago going into halftime.
The second half started much slower for Denver than the first half began. The Bulls went on a 9-2 run to start, and looked like the game might slip away from the Nuggets. Good defense and a balanced scoring attack helped Denver back into it though. Harris, Chandler, and Gallo all played solid defense to keep the Bulls out of the paint. At the midway mark in the third, Plumlee and Barton came in, and Barton hit his first shot of the evening. Jokic continued his redemption game, making plays all over the floor and hitting shots. Stepping into and making these threes is just absurd for a center.
This group, Murray-Barton-Chandler-Plumlee-Jokic, really dominated the end of the third quarter and gave Denver a 91-83 lead going into the fourth.
The fourth quarter picked up where the third left off. Gallo came back on and helped steady the ship on both ends, scoring points and contributing to the defensive effort. He hit many tough shots, but the combination of defense to offense is what separated Denver here. Forcing Chicago into tough shots all night came back to bite them here, and Denver continued to take threes and shots at the rim, which helped Denver pull away.
The offense slowed down a bit after that, but then, Will Barton came alive on the offensive end and started doing more Will Barton things. He and the rest of the Nuggets kept the Bulls at arm’s length throughout, closing out the game. Jokic got his triple-double late in the game as well, the third of his young career.
Kenneth Faried’s rebounding is missed
The Bulls really took advantage of the Nuggets on the offensive glass throughout the game. They had 10 offensive boards in the first half and 11 overall. Faried is one of the best (if not the best) rebounders on the team, and his aggression on the glass would have done well to shut down the Bulls. Denver also had just six offensive rebounds of their own, so it will be nice to see the Nuggets get back their Manimal when he heals.
Defense was played!
Yeah, the Bulls scored 107 points, but Denver held them in check in the second half. With the pace that Denver scored at, all they needed was to generate stops for an extended stretch, and they did. The late third-early fourth was huge for the team, as the offensive machine got hot and the defense forced some really tough shots against Chicago.