The Denver Nuggets have gone undefeated on this home stand. After dropping their previous game in Utah against the Jazz, the Nuggets fought for a win against the Chicago Bulls. The Nuggets were at home for this single game before heading back out on the road and they made sure to make the most of it. A terrible third quarter left the Nuggets in a big hole as they went into the fourth, but a monster comeback fueled by Danilo Gallinari, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kenneth Faried and Nikola Jokic earned Denver the W

The first quarter opened up well for Denver, they found Nikola Jokic and t.hen Emmanuel Mudiay for the first two baskets of the game and opened up shooting well overall. The Bulls weren’t about to be run off the floor though and they counter punched Denver’s good shooting by capitalizing on their sloppy ball security. Danilo Gallinari and Jimmy Butler waged a one on one duel with each player making plays on offense. Gallo did most of his work from the foul line whereas Butler was doing damage from mid range. The teams continued to trade baskets through the quarter but a nice closeout from the Nuggets at the end of the 1st rendered them a 30-26 lead.

Interestingly, coach Michael Malone elected to utilize Joffrey Lauvergne as the first big of the bench instead of Jusuf Nurkic. However, Nurkic was not far behind and the two euro bigs got plenty of minutes together. The second quarter opened with a Will Barton three but that was followed with some sloppy bench play by both teams and nearly three minutes passed before someone scored again. During this period of time Nurkic feasted on the boards, grabbing 6 rebounds in six minutes, unfortunately though he also picked up two quick fouls.

Derrick Rose had one of those vintage Rose drives after the lull, blowing right by Mudiay and and slashing to the lane for a reverse layup. The Bulls followed up with a Doug McDermott three and the eight point lead the Nuggets had built with the close of the first and start of the second quarter had evaporated, largely due to the 2/11 shooting to open the second quarter. The Bulls meanwhile were living in the paint. Faried would get a nice and one off a break away but Butler responded with an and 1 of his own.

Right before half Butler took a big fall after a drive and was fouled on the play. Despite the trainers bringing out a gurney to wheel him off, he gutted out shooting two free throws first. After shooting he wouldn't move from the free throw line until someone could assist him back over to the gurney. Truly a scary moment for the Bulls (and fans of superb basketball players everywhere). The second quarter ended how the entire game had gone, back and forth between the two teams with the Bulls holding a slim 57-55 lead at the horn.

Denver opened the second half struggling on offense. They scored just two points in the first three minutes which fueled an 11-2 run for the Bulls. The Nuggets looked like they might lose it early in the second half but Gallo kept them in it by scoring their first eight points. Chicago's offense mainly ran through Rose in the second quarter. He was able to get to the rim consistently and either get the lay up or find a teammate for an open jump shot. The Bulls went on a 9-0 run in between free throws from Mudiay and Gallinari. Foye closed out the quarter with 4 points. Only Gallo, Mudiay and Foye scored for the Nuggets in the third quarter. They trailed 89-73 after three.

Denver opened the final quarter with some energy and defense highlighted by a big slam off the pick and roll for Faried. The Nuggets went on a run of their own, opening the quarter 15-4 to get within 5 of the Bulls. Chicago fought back but Jokic nailed back to back threes. At this point a really weird occurrence happened. Apparently the score keepers were the back up crew and had serious trouble getting the score right. There was a period there where no one knew what the score was and the refs spent a lot of time trying to get the scoreboard in sync with the scorecard. Eventually they decided it was 105-103 in favor of the Bulls.

Like Denver had most of the night, they leaned on Gallo and Mudiay in crunch time. Mudiay hit a big three followed by an acrobatic layup and Gallo followed with a step back jumper to take a 109-108 lead with 57 seconds remaining. Rose air balled a step back and Mudiay was fouled with 21 seconds left. He went 1 for 2 but Faried came flying in on his miss and tipped it in to give the Nuggets a four point lead. They salted it away with free throws and won 115-110.

Key match up: The Trifecta

Unfortunately, Pau Gasol couldn’t play tonight so there was no Spain vs Serbia showdown at the center. Denver’s other young players playing their potential ceilings, Harris and Mudiay, had completely different performances. Mudiay had one of his better games of the year. He was attacking, scoring and limiting his turnovers. Harris on the other hand was very quiet. In comparison to Butler and Rose though they were both outplayed. Butler was a beast until he got hurt and Rose nearly put up a triple double with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. The downside to Rose’s performance was he took 27 shots to get those 30 points.

Key thing to watch for: E'Twuan Moore

Moore ended up getting big minutes because of Butler's injury. Unfortunately for Chicago he was unable to repeat his performance from the previous game and was largely a non-factor. In fact the biggest contribution he made to the game was at the end when he was matched up against Mudiay and couldn't do anything except foul him. Without Butler, Chicago needed Moore to step up in crunch time and he was a no show.

Forget the bench…what a comeback!

Denver trailed by 16 points after a terrible third quarter but out scored Chicago 42-21 in the fourth to steal the win. This game is just the latest prime example of how different these Nuggets are compared to last year's. How many times did we see them come out flat in the second half last season and just fold their way to a 20+ point loss. Tonight when things looked grim Denver's core stepped up and carried the team to victory.

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