Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls

Bulls close out Nuggets

Bulls improve to 23-10 on the season

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

By Sam Smith | 1.01.2015 | 9:30 p.m. CT

The Bulls recovered from a slow start to defeat the Denver Nuggets 106-101 behind a big fourth quarter from Derrick Rose with 13 points.

Rose finished with 17 points. Pau Gasol also had 17 points along with nine rebounds and a career high nine blocks while Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 26 points along with eight rebounds and eight assists.

The Bulls moved to 23-10 and 9-6 at home.

It was a welcome fourth quarter for the Bulls as an aggressive and attacking Rose got to the basket with floaters while teammates cleaned up his misses with follows and Rose made a crucial jumper to give the Bulls a late eight-point lead.

The Bulls got off to another staggering start, shooting 32 percent in the first quarter and trailing only 23-22. Rose’s shooting woes continued while Pau Gasol missed several layups, rebounding his own misses four times and often missing again. The defense was active enough, though the Nuggets pulled away some late in the second quarter behind a run of Wilson Chandler with a pair of threes and a runout after a Butler miss. That made up most of a 10-0 run that gave the Nuggets a 43-35 lead they carried to 53-42 at halftime. Meanwhile, the Bulls offense was mostly offensive, again off center with 31.9 percent first half shooting with Rose and Taj Gibson a combined zero for 12. Jimmy Butler and Gasol each had nine points but were a combined seven for 18. The Bulls finally awoke in the third quarter, first Rose pushing the ball for a pair of layups, his first points of the game. And then Butler began going hard to the basket on the way to 15 third quarter points. With Gasol getting five of his blocks in the third, the Bulls took a 77-74 lead into the fourth quarter.

Observations:

1. The Bulls have been missing that old cliché of energy, starting games deliberately and not getting out in transition as much. Perhaps too much of that heavy cream in the holiday eggnog. Plus, teams are packing the paint until they can make more shots. But attacking after halftime enabled them to escape with a win.

2. When things are going bad, they go bad. Rose couldn’t get anything to fall early, his shots rolling around the rim on layup attempts and hitting front rim and then back and then out. Couldn’t even get a lucky bounce until a big fourth quarter close and pressure jumper.

3. Pau Gasol showed his rim protecting ability with a huge third quarter of five blocks on the way to his career high nine swats.