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Weakened Chicago Bulls face rolling Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center

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While the Nuggets ride high on a four game winning streak, the Bulls find themselves dealing with injuries to Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich and Pau Gasol.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Game 14: 2014-15 NBA Season
@

9-5 (7-2 away)
Series 0-0
6-7 (3-3 home)
Nov. 25, 2014
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
7:00 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Derrick Rose PG Ty Lawson
Jimmy Butler
SG Arron Afflalo
Mike Dunleavy SF Wilson Chandler
Pau Gasol PF Kenneth Faried
Joakim Noah C Timofey Mozgov
Notes
Blog a Bull Blogs You're Here!
Taj Gibson (ankle, out), Pau Gasol (calf, day to day), Kirk Hinrich (ribs, out) Injuries

JaVale McGee (calf, day to day), Randy Foye (right quad tear, out)

Doug McDermott will face off for the first time against the Nuggets this season

Etc...

The Nuggets have won 5 out of the last 6 contests against the Bulls, and 7 of 8 at home

What a difference four games makes.

Four games ago, the Nuggets were just 2-7, dealing with the fallout from Kevin Arnovitz' article about a front office in disarray and an on court squad that seemed just as discombobulated. Rotations were inconsistent, effort was wanting, and the organization as a whole seemed primed to snap.

Instead of letting an ESPN bombshell define their season, the Nuggets have turned it into a catalyst for the best basketball we've seen from the team since perhaps the end of the 2012-2013 season. They've just gone 2-1 on a road trip and would have been 3-0 on that road trip if not for an inexplicably cold second quarter in New York. If not for that one bad quarter, the team might be riding a 6 game streak coming into tonight's game.

In that stretch, the Nuggets have defeated the LeBron James-led Cavaliers in Cleveland on a back to back, blown out Anthony Davis' s Pelicans by 20 at home, and fought down a cornered Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. They've won tired, won big, won on the road, and won close. The team seems to be finding an identity with its defense, holding their opponents to 100 points or less in 5 of their last 6 contests. The Nuggets have also placed a renewed emphasis on the three point shot, but while they're 3rd in the league in attempts, they're disturbingly 23rd in percentage of those three point field goals made. As both Danilo Gallinari and Arron Afflalo seem to be hitting their stride with their stroke, we should expect to see these numbers improve.

Tonight, the Nuggets will look to build on the taming of their id and run at home against a Bulls team that is just 15th in the league in points per game (100.2). The Bulls will be without Taj Gibson due to a lingering ankle injury and will likely be without the services of Kirk Hinrich as well, putting significant pressure on an also dinged-up Derrick Rose and itinerant former Nugget Aaron Brooks. It'll be interesting to see how Brooks conducts the Bulls offense when Rose is out, as he did a pretty respectable job in a tough situation last season with Denver.

The Bulls will also likely deploy Doug "McBuckets" McDermott in his first career contest against the Nuggets. The Nuggets selected McDermott for the Bulls in exchange for the selections of Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris, and it'll be fun to watch what could have been with these young players - for both teams. For their parts, I've been really impressed with Nurkic and Harris' time on the court, and McDermott is showing flashes of the offensive prowess that he displayed at Creighton.

With the Bulls sore, depleted, and coming to Denver after a close contest against the Utah Jazz last night, this should be a game that this squad is absolutely capable of winning. While still a dynamic weapon that will be a tough cover for Ty Lawson, Rose still appears to be knocking off the injury rust. Gasol, similarly, is also in the process of adjusting to his new teammates in Chicago. Still, the Nuggets can't get complacent, and should look to build on their success by playing solid defense without fouling and taking shots in rhythm.

Brian Shaw has silenced a lot of the haters - for the moment - but he'll silence many more if he can keep this team streaking through their winnable games.

Injury updates:

Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post is reporting that Randy Foye and JaVale McGee will miss tonight's game against the Bulls. Foye will be out for an extended period with a torn quadriceps muscle in his leg.