CHICAGO (NBA.com exclusive) -- The Denver Nuggets needed every ounce of their veteran skills to get a road win against the Chicago Bulls.
Chauncey Billups hit the game-winning free throw with 0.6 seconds remaining, and the Nuggets edged the Bulls 90-89 to end their two-game losing streak. The Bulls suffered their first home loss.
The Bulls thought they won the game when Brad Miller made a jumper at the buzzer, but since the Bulls had only 0.3 left on the clock on the inbounds, his catch-and-shoot attempt was eventually ruled late.
"Fortunately, (the officials) made the right call, but it scared the hell out of us,'' Denver coach George Karl said.
Denver's Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points, 11 below his average, and made only eight of 22 shots, most of them taken against Bulls forward Luol Deng. Billups finished with 17 points and Kenyon Martin had 15 (to go with 10 rebounds) in his return to action after missing a game due to a left fibula contusion. Nene had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds
Bulls guard Derrick Rose had a season-high 22 points, including the game-tying free throws to create the 89-89 draw with 10.4 seconds left, while Joakim Noah had another career high in rebounds with 21 to go with 12 points. Deng finished with 21 points.
The Nuggets held the lead for most of the game, but it never got larger than 10 points, and in the final quarter, the Bulls staged a comeback. They trailed by as much as seven points with six minutes left but Rose and John Salmons made several long jumpers to get the Bulls back into the game.
The outcome was determined when Billups dribbled down the lane against Kirk Hinrich, who was called for a reach-in foul with 0.6 seconds left.
The challenge for the Bulls was to figure out how to defend Carmelo Anthony, Billups and Kenyon Martin. The Bulls did the job well, holding the Nuggets to 41.7 percent shooting, but they couldn't stop enough shots in the second half to turn the game in their favor.
Billups was especially problematic for Rose and Hinrich, and scored seven of his 17 points at the free throw line. He would have had another but missed the last one intentionally to give the Bulls less time for a final shot.
"I planned on missing it on purpose,'' Billups said. "My thinking was that if they have only three-tenths of a second then they have to hit a miraculous shot. Then they did hit a miraculous shot."
The Nuggets, in fact, had the advantage at the free throw line the entire game, and did not get called for a foul until early in the second quarter. They finished with a 15-9 edge at the line for the game.
Deng, who is in a career resurgence after an iffy 2008-2009, played Anthony straight up most of the game, and contested almost every attempt.
"I thought Luol was good on Carmelo,'' Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We have to feel good about (the Bulls' defense)."
"We did a good job as a team,'' Deng said. "We tried to take (Anthony) out of his jumper and make him drive. The guys had my back whenever he drove."
The Nuggets were trying to get back on the winning track after road losses at Miami and Atlanta, and took control of the game late in the first quarter. They held the lead the entire second quarter, then fought off the Bulls through the third and fourth quarters.
The Nuggets (6-2) are now 3-2 on the six-game road trip with a stop in Milwaukee set for Wednesday.
After bemoaning the fact that Miller's final shot did not count, the Bulls concentrated their thoughts on Noah, who set a career high in rebounds for a second time this season and posted his fourth double-double.
"Joakim was outstanding again and did a good job on the glass,'' Del Negro said.