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Recap: Denver Nuggets blow the doors off the Chicago Bulls, win 135-102

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Now that was effort!

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets were thoroughly admonished by their coach for overlooking an inferior opponent out of the gate just a couple days ago, that would not be the case tonight. Seven players scored in double figures, led by Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic, and Denver routed the Chicago Bulls. They nearly led wire to wire and scored at a ridiculously efficient rate to bury the Bulls early and turn the game into a complete laugher. By the time the 4th quarter started the Nuggets were deep into their bench and they come out of the game on top by a whopping margin of 135-102.

The game opened with the Nuggets and Bulls trading three pointers, Jokic did get one two pointer in there though so the Denver grabbed an early 11-9 lead. The Nuggets continued to struggle to defend Chicago at the perimeter but a combo of Millsap and Will Barton on offense kept Denver in front. At one point Millsap scored eleven straight for the Nuggets which grew their lead to eight. The Bulls seemed very content to let the Nuggets get to the rim and pretty much allowed Denver to get whatever they wanted so the lead quickly ballooned to double digits.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Jokic opened the second quarter red hot and got six quick points. The Bulls, who were fairly short handed, started giving a little more effort but it was easy to see which side had more talent. Devin Harris had himself another nice game and complemented Jokic well while the two were on the floor. As the quarter turned past the half way point the Nuggets sputtered for a bit. They even turned the ball over on five straight possessions. Luckily Denver had grown their lead past twenty points so they were able to survive the sloppiness without much worry. All in all, the second quarter was essentially just a shooting drill for Denver. At the end of the half they had scored 77 points and led by 31.

Denver cooled off over the break and came out in the third quarter looking a little flat. The Bulls were also cold so a lot of Denver’s lapses on D went unpunished but it didn’t stop coach Malone from calling a timeout to get the team re-focused. Millsap carried the offense through the first portion of the quarter, in what was quickly turning into not only his best game back since he returned from injury, but his best game in a Nuggets jersey period. When Denver’s bench started checking in the lead had grown to over thirty points. Pretty much everyone was scoring on Denver’s side, all five starters were in double figures as well as Harris off the bench. Denver continued to score at will, even getting an iconic “scoring orgy” quote out of Chris Marlowe. After three quarters Denver was closing in on a 50 point lead, pacing the Bulls 113-70.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Harris opened the fourth with a three and shortly thereafter Mason Plumlee found Torrey Craig with a beautiful pass first, then Harris found Trey Lyles with a great pass. The bench unit started to struggle to get baskets after that though. Their execution wasn’t as crisp as the starters had been. Despite the massive lead, coach Malone used a timeout to get some things corrected with his reserves after they came up empty on four straight possessions and Chicago went on a 14-4 run. Out of the timeout Denver started hitting shots again. Malik Beasley came on and nailed a three, then Lyles had a pair of buckets, including a ridiculous three to beat the shot clock. The defensive effort was still lacking but that was the case on both ends. The highlight of the quarter, or lowlight, was Beasley instantly becoming a top candidate for Shaqtin-a-fool with an incredibly forgettable turnover with about two minutes to go. In the waning moments Denver pretty much stopped caring but it didn’t matter, their lead was far too large to surmount and they got the win.

Best matchup: The Nuggets vs team records

The Nuggets started growing a lead from the opening tip and didn’t stop. The Bulls looked extremely disinterested in defending, particularly when people drove to the lane. The Nuggets ended up having an outside chance at setting their new season high for points in a game and also a team record for largest margin of victory. Ultimately that was not to be after the reserve unit let the Bulls go on a run in the 4th but there was no one wearing a red jersey offering anything in the way of a solid matchup. Christiano Felicio got a lot of hustle points bullying down low but he also got absolutely torched by Jokic. This was as one sided of a matchup as they come

Main thing I noticed: Devin Harris has looked good lately

As many of you know, I was a big Darris booster from pretty much November on, however I’ll be the first to tell you that he hasn’t been the greatest since donning a Nuggets jersey. He hasn’t been a total negative so the Nuggets were still far more stable in their bench unit with him at the helm instead of Barton or Emmanuel Mudiay, but he was just mediocre. Lately though Harris has turned in some solid outings and tonight was no different. I think that he is really starting to feel comfortable in the point guard role and with the team and is going to pay big dividends down the stretch which would be nice because despite the blowout tonight, the Nuggets still need all the help they can get.

Closing thought: Good to get the blowout

It’s no secret that the Nuggets have struggled to play their best against inferior opponents and those issues culminated with the loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last week. There was certainly reason to be nervous coming into tonight because with the Nuggets no win is guaranteed. Tonight though they came out early with energy and they kept their foot on the gas all the way through the third quarter. The bench got beat in the fourth but at that point the game was well out of reach. Great to see the Nuggets take care of business against a lottery team on the road, hopefully it can springboard them to beating playoff teams on the road because that’s what they have in front of them for the next four games.

Boxscore

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