Note-A-Bulls: Bulls Find Fools Gold Once Again in Denver

Some numbers: 10, 15, 16, 22, 24, 35, and double zero. Over their last 10 meetings in Denver, the Bulls have lost all 10. Over their last 16 meetings in Denver, the Bulls have lost 15. The Nuggets went on a 22-0 run to start the second quarter, a 24-0 run in all. Jimmy Butler scored 35 points. Isaiah Canaan, number zero, airballed a three pointer to cap a 0-4 shooting night from beyond the arc. The Bulls lost this one 110-107 to continue their poor streak against the Nuggets in Colorado. Maybe it’s the mile-high air that gets them winded down the stretch, or maybe it’s the mountain logo on the floor that gets them distracted in crunch time, but they just can’t seem to do it. Here are your Note-A-Bulls:

  • The starting five  of Butler, Dwayne Wade, Rajon Rondo, Taj Gibson, and Robin Lopez combined for 38-75, an impressive FG% of 50.7%, accounting for all but 13 of the Bulls points for the game, and came out looking sharp to build a 31-19 first quarter lead.
  • That same starting five worked a long night in a city with thin air, all with at least 33 minutes of play.
  • Butler and Gibson had +/- splits of 18 and 12, respectively, while Isaiah Canaan had an awfully tough night at -22, by far the worst on the team, and a poor shooting night to boot, going 1-6 in 17 minutes.
  • The bench (what bench?). With top reserves Doug McDermott and Michael Carter-Williams out, the bench last night was very thin – Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg was forced to play Denzel Valentine and a struggling Isaiah Canaan for a combined 31 minutes. Bobby Portis was a no-show; in seven minutes of play, he went 0-3 with one rebound and a +/- of -9. Nikola Mirotic started off well, draining a deep three, and finished with a decent line of 4-10 with 11 points in 22 minutes, but was a part of poor rotations that saw him finish with a -9 as well.
  • A word about the final play of the game: it was drawn up for Wade to get the ball to Butler in the paint, but a Denver switch had Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried on Jimmy and there was nowhere to go. The second option was a curl for Canaan – he had an open three, but it wasn’t close. The Bulls players backed Hoiberg and defended the play, Hoiberg said he has to find a better play to draw up, and the rest of us are scratching our heads on why that was the second option, especially when Butler had hit a game-tying three just a couple of possessions prior.
  • They say games aren’t won or lost in the final minutes of the game, and this is true – the Bulls allowed a 24-0 run earlier in the game to sink them, getting out-rebounded 55-48 and 17-10 on the offensive boards, not winning loose balls, and showcasing sloppy play and turnovers; but, their final four minutes were not up to snuff. In the final four minutes, the sequence of plays looked like this (not a lot of good, with the exception of Butler coming through twice):
    • Wade missed 3-pt attempt
    • Bulls shot clock violation
    • Danilo Gallinari finger roll
    • Rondo layup (made)
    • Lopez block
    • Rondo turnover
    • Rondo missed jump shot, Lopez offensive rebound and missed put-back
    • Nuggets offensive rebound and Gallinari made three pointer
    • Butler fouled shooting a three (made all three)
    • Rondo foul
    • Lopez foul (Nuggets shoot two and make both)
    • Butler three pointer (made)
    • Wade foul (Nuggets shoot two and make both)
    • Canaan airball three pointer
    • Butler foul (Nuggets shoot two and make one)
  • For the Denver Nuggets, rookie Jamal Murray had a stellar night; in 21 minutes, he scored 24 points on 9-13 shooting, three for four from three point range, was three for three from the charity stripe, and put up six rebounds and two assists with zero turnovers for a +/- of +9.
  • Up Next: The Bulls finish up their road trip in Philadelphia on Friday, while the Nuggets play the Jazz in Utah on Wednesday.
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