The Nuggets add another loss to their preseason record falling to the Chicago Bulls 131-113. If you didn’t see this game, that was probably for the better. There were some bright spots — namely MPJ and Bones, but overall was an ugly match with a bad defensive showing and a forgettable effort from the Nuggets.
The first quarter was a lot of Michael Porter Jr. shooting and other players setting him up. He took 10 shots in the 9 minutes he played in the first quarter. Those shots led 4 made field goals for 9 points. He also crashed the glass — pulling in 4 rebounds in the same period of time.
Aaron Gordon started the game on a high note too. He was muscling his way to the rim with ease, giving DeMar DeRozan a hard time, and generally just being solid on both ends of the floor. His jumper was going in at a decent clip as well.
The first substitutions of the game saw a staggered lineup with Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. remaining in the game — being joined by Bones Hyland, Bruce Brown, and Zeke Nnaji. The lineup was a mixed bag, Nnaji had some flashes; making a 3 pointer, getting a solid finish out of a pick and roll with Bones. However, he also got outmuscled by Andre Drummond and had some issues keeping up with him on both the boards and interior finishing.
The second quarter saw a general decline of the Nuggets defense. What started as a defensive effort forcing tough floaters and midrange shots gave way to the Bulls getting open looks from beyond the arc and at the rim. There were also a lot of turnovers that led to easy looks for Chicago in transition. The Nuggets allowed 45 points in the second quarter.
The offense did look good though, scoring 37 points in the quarter. It was a lot of Michael Porter Jr. again, scoring 6 points in his time there. Bones Hyland also had 8 points in the first half. The second quarter did see Murray go to the locker room with what has been reported as left thigh soreness. He was ruled out and didn’t return — though it was probably just to be cautious. At halftime, the Nuggets were down 72-63.
Bizzy with the contact finish + 1 pic.twitter.com/3Ctpd6XNCe— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) October 8, 2022
The third quarter started with a lineup of Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji instead of Jamal Murray and DeAndre Jordan in the starting lineup. It started very slow offensively and defensively — the only points scored in the first five and a half minutes of the quarter coming from two MPJ buckets and a pair of Zeke Nnaji free throws. The Bulls outscored the Nuggets 14-7 in that stretch of play.
Bones Hyland started figuring things out after that though and was a bright spot for a team that was struggling to score during the game. He finished the quarter with 6 points scored in the quarter and a couple of assists. The Bulls kept scoring though and were up by 17 at the end of the third quarter with their second unit making the defense look like swiss cheese.
The final frame of this game was not very inspiring either. Bones Hyland scored 8 more points before being subbed out at the six minute mark. Outside of him though, the offense still struggled. The defense continued to look bad too, allowing the Bulls to shoot 60.2% from the field, 53.6% from the 3 point line, and 18 free throws on the night. The third stringers also looked rough, but Peyton Watson did look good in his minutes. The rookie put up 7 points on 3 of 5 shooting with 1 of 2 from downtown and a block in just a shave under 7 minutes.
Overall though, this game was one that was never super close, and one that the Nuggets will want to forget come regular season games. It was a blowout, and even though it’s preseason — there are some issues with the bench that are beginning to become evident. The next game will be on Monday against the Suns.