Jimmy Butler scored 32 points going 18-20 from the free throw line.
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Bulls fall to Nuggets in Denver

Bulls now 9-6 on the season

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By Sam Smith | 11.25.2014 | 10:30 p.m. CT

Derrick Rose left the game in the first half with tightness in his hamstring after playing 10 minutes and scoring two points. The Bulls made it close down the stretch in the fourth quarter behind 32 points from Jimmy Butler and 22 points and 11 rebounds from Pau Gasol. But the Nuggets came up with a pair of big, late jumpers for a 114-109 victory. The Nuggets shot 50.6 percent, outrebounded the Bulls and had a 23-9 edge in fast break points. The Bulls fell to 2-3 on their seven-game road trip with the next game in Boston noon (Central) Friday.

Expect the unexpected from the Bulls given the health concerns, and Tuesday it was Joakim Noah joining Taj Gibson sitting out. So rookie second round pick Cameron Bairstow got his first NBA start after having played just 12 minutes all season. It was a shaky debut as the Nuggets took advantage of the Bulls trying to help on the interior, shooting 54 percent in the first quarter to take a 31-21 lead. Kirk Hinrich was back from injury, but it was mostly a sluggish effort from the Bulls, who again were weak on the boards without Noah and Gibson. The Bulls reserves—though it’s difficult to tell as many start these days—brought the Bulls back in the second quarter against a weak Denver bench with eight points from Aaron Brooks and a pair of nice spin moves from Nikola Mirotic. The Bulls got within 42-36, saw Denver space it out again when the starters returned and hung onto a 56-49 halftime lead as Pau Gasol got going in the post and Butler continued to power inside with 11 first half trips to the free throw line and 17 points in the first half. Of concern, Rose played passively with just two first half points and then after about three minutes playing in his second rotation late in the second quarter left the game for Brooks with 2:32 left in the half. Though there wasn’t much emotion from the entire team in the second of the back to back as Denver had a 23-17 first half rebounding edge. Kirk Hinrich, who started the second half, helped the Bulls pull within 64-61 five minutes into the third quarter. But Hinrich then appeared to reinjure his chest and left the game. But Hinrich started the fourth quarter. Led by Ty Lawson’s driving without Rose or Hinrich, Denver took an 86-76 lead into the fourth quarter.


1. The debate over rushing back versus playing will go on as Derrick Rose’s hamstring flared up in the second quarter of the second game of a back to bask set as Rose played much more cautiously Tuesday after a strong start to Monday’s game in Utah.

2. Jimmy Butler continues to be the Bulls primary offensive force to the point the Nuggets began to double and triple team him when he went into the post as Butler had a career high free throws made and attempted and his sixth game in the last seven with at least 20 points. Butler was 18 of 20 from the free throw line for a career high equaling 32 points.

3. Bulls were battered on the boards again, and you could note it was without Noah and Gibson. But it’s been happening frequently this season as the Bulls are 16th in the league in rebounding this season.