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News » Streaky Bulls fade away

Streaky Bulls fade away

Streaky Bulls fade awayBasketball is a game of runs and momentum swings, but the Bulls and Denver Nuggets took it to ridiculous extremes Saturday night in the Pepsi Center.

After controlling much of the first half and leading by 14 points, the Bulls fell apart in the fourth quarter in suffering a 112-93 loss.

''Embarrassing'' Bulls guard Derrick Rose said. ''We can't give up. We have to run back, play defense. I'm not calling anybody out; we were all out there. Towards the end we were acting lackadaisical.''

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro was no less critical.

''I didn't like our intensity or effort,'' Del Negro said. ''Our rotations were slow. Once they got on a little bit of a roll, we had no answer for them offensively. Our ball movement wasn't nearly as good the second half. They picked their defense up and we let their pressure bother us.

''You have to continue to bring the effort, energy and professionalism. And I didn't think we did that in the second half. That's what is most disappointing.''

The Bulls (6-6) were led by Rose with 28 points and Luol Deng with 22. Center Joakim Noah (10 points and eight rebounds) had his double-double streak snapped at six games.

"We felt like we were doing a great job and they exploded on us,'' the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich said. ''I just felt like as a group we gave in way too easily."

The Nuggets were led by Carmelo Anthony with 30 points and Chauncey Billups with 21.

While the Bulls were relaxing in their hotel, the Nuggets were playing the Los Angeles Clippers (a 106-99 loss) and didn't arrive home until the early-morning hours.

Denver scored the first three points of the game, but the Bulls charged back with 10 straight to take control. The Bulls led by as many as 14 points (25-11) in the first quarter before taking a 27-15 lead into the second quarter.

The Bulls built the lead back up to 14 points on a couple of occasions early in the second (the last being 35-21) and still had a 45-32 advantage with just under five minutes left in the first half. But the Nuggets came to life and closed the second with a 17-7 run to pull within 52-49 at halftime.

After the Nuggets took the lead early in the third quarter, the teams exchanged leads and ties for the next several minutes. The Bulls had a 71-70 lead with less than a minute left in the third, but Denver closed with five straight points -- including a three-pointer by J.R. Smith -- for a 75-71 lead entering the fourth.

Things got out of hand remarkably quickly in the final quarter. Smith, the master of the ''No, no! ... good shot'' when he's on, got hot and scored 17 points in a 25-10 run that gave the Nuggets a 97-81 lead.

How bad were things for the Bulls ? One was their baskets was an accident when Nene tipped in a Noah miss while going for a rebound.

Denver turned up its defense intensity and the Bulls didn't respond. There was too much standing around on offense and too much pounding the ball with the dribble.

The Bulls didn't put up much of a fight on the defensive end, either. The Nuggets scored 37 points in the fourth quarter.

''The second half was disappointing,'' Del Negro said. ''Once they got the lead and got rolling, we sort of fell into the momentum of what they were doing instead of being a little more physical, understanding what they were doing, being a little tougher, having a little fight to us. That's what we have to do.''


Bulls 27 25 19 22-- 93

Denver 14 35 26 37--112

Bulls min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

Deng 36:38 9-19 4-4 1-3 1 3 22

Gibson 39:01 3-6 3-4 5-12 1 2 9

Noah 31:58 4-6 2-2 0-8 3 2 10

Rose 36:54 11-20 6-7 1-6 3 1 28

Salmons 28:16 2-11 1-2 0-1 1 2 5

Hinrich 27:06 3-10 1-2 2-3 5 2 9

Miller 22:52 0-3 2-2 1-7 4 3 2

Pargo 8:56 2-3 0-0 0-1 1 1 4

Johnson 5:43 2-3 0-1 0-0 0 0 4

Hunter 2:37 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 240 36-81 19-24 10-41 19 16 93

Percentages: FG .444, FT .792. 3-Point Goals: 2-11, .182 (Hinrich 2-5, Johnson 0-1, Pargo 0-1, Rose 0-1, Salmons 0-3). Team Rebounds: 2. Team Turnovers: 16 (16 PTS). Blocked Shots: 5 (Deng 4, Gibson). Turnovers: 16 (Rose 5, Hinrich 3, Noah 3, Deng 2, Gibson, Miller, Salmons). Steals: 7 (Gibson 2, Miller 2, Deng, Rose, Salmons). Technical Fouls: Defensive three second, 1:41 first; Noah, 3:34 second; Hinrich, 12:00 second; Gibson, 6:23 third.

Nuggets min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

Anthony 40:51 12-25 5-5 2-11 7 4 30

Martin 32:35 4-9 0-0 3-11 2 1 8

Nene 31:44 3-6 4-7 2-9 2 5 10

Billups 30:31 5-9 8-8 0-4 5 2 21

Afflalo 18:55 0-6 0-0 0-1 0 3 0

Smith 30:30 8-17 0-0 1-3 4 1 19

Andersen 25:21 4-4 1-2 1-5 0 2 9

Lawson 21:52 3-5 3-4 0-0 3 2 9

Graham 3:52 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2

Allen 2:37 2-2 0-0 2-2 0 0 4

Balkman 1:12 0-2 0-0 0-1 0 1 0

Totals 240 42-86 21-26 11-47 23 21 112

Percentages: FG .488, FT .808. 3-Point Goals: 7-25, .280 (Billups 3-5, Smith 3-9, Anthony 1-4, Lawson 0-1, Martin 0-1, Balkman 0-2, Afflalo 0-3). Team Rebounds: 9. Team Turnovers: 12 (18 PTS). Blocked Shots: 7 (Martin 4, Andersen 3). Turnovers: 12 (Anthony 3, Afflalo 2, Billups 2, Nene 2, Martin 2, Graham). Steals: 6 (Andersen 2, Anthony 2, Billups, Lawson). Technical Fouls: Nene, 3:34 second.

Officials--Greg Willard, Tommy Nunez, Gary Zielinski. A--19,359. T--2:16.


Just a few days after being hospitalized because of fluid in his right knee, backup center Aaron Gray rejoined the Bulls in time for the morning shootaround prior to Saturday night's game with the Denver Nuggets in the Pepsi Center. ''I think it was just an infection in the knee,'' Gray said. ''The way it was explained to me, we could wait and let it heal itself or we could take care of it in one shot. So they admitted me to the hospital and got me right into an IV with antibiotics. It's cleared up real nicely.'' ... The infection flared up while Gray already was out with a stress fracture of the lower left leg. The knee problem interrupted his rehabilitation as he spent a couple of days in the hospital before being released Tuesday night. ''It's tough; it's a setback. Obviously not one I can afford right now,'' he said. ''It's just something I'm gonna have to work through and get back as soon as possible to help this team.'' Gray hopes to return to practicing full time by the end of the current road trip. ... There's no NBA team in Wyoming, so Denver is about as close to home that Bulls rookie James Johnson will play this season. Johnson had a host of family and friends at the game, including his mother, father and a brother. ''My mother's never been to a professional Basketball game, so this is gonna be her first one,'' Johnson said. ''I'm pretty excited about that.'' ... Nuggets coach George Karl coached Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro with the Milwaukee Bucks. ''I'm kind of surprised he became a coach,'' Karl said. ''I didn't know he wanted the gray hair, to lose hair. I thought he liked the sunshine in Phoenix more than being a crazy coach in the NBA.''

John Jackson

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