NBA Basketball

Bulls face Nuggets with eye on top spot in East

Short on rotation players but not on resolve, the streaking Chicago Bulls shook off an 11-point third-quarter deficit to defeat the host Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night.

"Says a lot about our team, how resilient, ow we approach challenges," Chicago's DeMar DeRozan said after the 111-107 victory. "We don't shy away from them. We accept them. You want to be the best, you gotta beat the best."

Angling for the top record in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls will try to stretch their winning streak to four games on Monday as they host the Denver Nuggets, a contender in the West that is looking to get in track.

Chicago persevered at Brooklyn despite playing without Javonte Green and Coby White, who remain in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Patrick Williams still is sidelined with an injured left wrist, while Alex Caruso left the game due to a nagging hamstring injury.

The Bulls hardly were fazed, with usual suspects Zach LaVine (31 points) and DeRozan (29) sparking the attack.

DeRozan scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, and Chicago made its charge with a 13-4 run.

"We're just going to keep coming," DeRozan said. "We've learning not to get down on ourselves. We're learning a very critical part of the game of understanding to stay level-headed and balanced. There's a lot of time in the game for things to turn over. Stay the course. Do what we work on. Trust our offense. Trust our defense. Trust each other. That's what we do."

Denver improved to 2-1 on its seven-game road trip with Saturday's 113-99 win against the New York Knicks. Before the current trip started, Denver was on a six-game losing streak.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic tallied 32 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes, benefiting from a sizable Denver lead throughout the game that allowed him to rest in the fourth quarter.

Jokic was 14-of-19 from the floor.

Denver enjoyed a sparkling shooting effort overall, connecting on 52.4 percent of its shots while drilling a season-high 20 3-pointers on 46.5-percent accuracy from 3-point range.

Zeke Nnaji complemented Jokic's success in the frontcourt with a career-high 21 points. He added eight rebounds and two steals.

"I'm not usually one to ever get complacent with a taste of success," Nnaji said. "I want to keep building off that."

Nnaji has responded to receiving additional playing time on the heels of injuries to P.J. Dozier (knee) and Michael Porter Jr. (back surgery).

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said "the entire locker room was thrilled" for Nnaji. As for Malone, he has been encouraged by the Nuggets' recent accountability in the film room.

"The fact that we have guys that are asking to show the clip again, offer their insights, own their mistakes, is always a positive," Malone said.

The Bulls will try to secure a season sweep of the Nuggets after earning a 114-108 victory at Denver on Nov. 19. LaVine scored 36 points in that one as Chicago snapped a 13-game skid in the Mile High City. The Bulls now aim to end a four-game losing streak against the Nuggets in Chicago.

Denver leads the all-time series 55-41.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 5, 2021

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