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Nuggets rout Bulls for eighth straight victory

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Feb. 8 2013 01:21

It’s officially a bull market in Denver.

Facing one of the NBA’s best road teams, the Nuggets turned up the defense and extended their winning streak to eight games with a 128-96 victory over the Chicago Bulls Thursday night at Pepsi Center.

Kenneth Faried had 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Ty Lawson added 16 points and 12 assists as the Nuggets completed a perfect 6-0 homestand. Denver (32-18) also improved to 21-6 since losing at Minnesota on Dec. 12.

Leading 63-58 at halftime, the Nuggets outscored Chicago 25-8 in the first 8 minutes of the third quarter, and the Bulls never got closer than 18 points the rest of the way.

“We wanted to enforce our will and not really let them hang around,” Faried said. “Not a lot of people see us when we do play, so more people want to step up to the stage in a nationally televised game. We brought it tonight.”

The Bulls, who dropped to 14-9 on the road, failed to handle Denver’s defensive pressure, committing seven turnovers leading to 13 points in the third quarter. Overall, Denver scored 28 points on 15 Chicago turnovers.

The end result was an easier than expected victory and Denver’s longest winning streak since an eight-game run from Jan. 11-27, 2010.

“We did what we had to do and it was fun watching the dunks, the 3-ball going in, the defensive energy and Kenneth bouncing around,” Nuggets coach George Karl said.

The entire Denver bench was bouncing in celebration as the Nuggets pushed the lead to as many as 35 points in the second half.

“We didn’t play well defensively, we didn’t play well offensively.” Bulls big man Joakim Noah said. “They beat us down the court every time. It was just an embarrassing loss. Right now, it’s just embarrassing the way we played.”

Nuggets reserve Wilson Chandler provided a huge lift off the bench, scoring a season-high 24 points in just 19 minutes. He went 8-of-9 from the field, including 5-for-5 from 3-point range.

“They like to stick with the ball and pack it in on the inside,” Chandler said. “Ty told me just to shoot it. He told me to stop hesitating and just let it go.”

It was Chandler’s highest-scoring game since joining the Nuggets on Feb. 22, 2011, and Denver’s 128 points were the most any team has scored against the Bulls since Tom Thibodeau took over as coach in 2010.

The superlatives for the Nuggets didn’t stop there.

Denver finished with 29 assists while shooting a season-high .581 from the field. When Lawson was on the floor, the Nuggets outscored the Bulls by 40 points.

It was a dominating performance by a rising young team in front of a national television audience.

“A lot of teams get a lot of attention when they go on winning streaks,” Chandler said. “We go on a six-game or seven-game winning streak, we really don’t get the credit for it. When we play against good teams, it’s almost like trying to prove something.”

Sitting one locker over from Chandler, Faried agreed with his teammate.

“I see that,” Faried said. “We’re not on TV as much and we’re not a big broadcast team. I think today we made a statement and showed everybody, ‘Hey, notice us. Pay attention. We’re out here trying to do our best.’ ”

STAR OF THE GAME

Kenneth Faried

Points 21, 9-10 FG, 3-4 FT
Rebounds 12, 4 OFF 8 DEF
Assists 0
Steals 2
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Wilson Chandler 24
Rebounds Kenneth Faried 12
Assists Ty Lawson 12
Steals Five with 5
Blocks JaVale McGee 3
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on Denver's 21-6 run to open the second half

“They came out and started the third quarter and just smoked us. They played very good defense; they had 37 in the third, got a big cushion and that was the game.”

KEY MOMENT

Nuggets emerge from locker room, deliver knockout blow in third quarter

Leading by eight points early in the third quarter, the Nuggets went on a 12-0 run over a 4:02 span to push the advantage to 20. JaVale McGee capped the run with a putback dunk, prompting Chicago to call its second timeout in less than two minutes.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On the game:
“The first half was great. The combination of Kenneth [Faried]’s energy and him scoring in the paint and then Wilson [Chandler] comes in, it’s a tough adjustment for guys to make when you are worried about Kenneth on the board and now you have Wilson making threes. And then defensively in the third quarter we played great. I think they scored six points in the last couple minutes, maybe the last minute. We had them at a 10-point quarter. They are short-handed. They are down a couple guys. We did what we had to do and it was fun watching them, the dunks, the three-ball going in, the defensive energy and Kenneth bouncing around. I said the only stretch of the game I thought where we kind of weren’t focused was in the second when the last guys had a 2-minute stretch where they took NBA shots and not Nuggets shots and didn’t run back defensively. I thought they even played well the last 5 minutes of the game.”

On the Nuggets as underdogs and staying under the radar:
“I am sure we will get a lot of love from the TNT boys tonight. Generally, unless we start challenging Oklahoma City for the division or something like that, they are probably not going to give us so much love and I kind of like it that way. I think the players would like more love and more attention but I think we just have to continue to stay focused and disciplined on doing our jobs.”

On the challenges of keeping the momentum on the road:
“There is a lot of windows of getting better. Our defense can get better and it’s got to be more consistent. I think the one thing we are getting now is consistent play out of our starters at a higher level and it’s the kind of a team that figures out how they are going to beat somebody as the game goes on. We don’t have one personality out there; we have numerous personalities and hopefully the balance of a good offensive team and a good defensive team is what we are shooting for. I don’t know if we are ever going to be a Chicago Bulls-type of defensive team. If we can create offense like we have been doing with some of our pressure and keep the ball away from the basket and out of the paint, I think we have enough defensive talents to be a really good defensive team.”

Nuggets guard/forward Andre Iguodala

On the expectations for tonight:
“I actually didn’t. I think that’s kind of why we played well. When we go up against those tough teams, our approach isn’t any different. We have to stay focused no matter what. When we are here, it’s pretty easy because guys are motivated and guys are focused in and we played well enough to win. We just have to keep going.”

On the third quarter:
“We started off slow for about two minutes. Then we went on a little run there in the first. In the second quarter, they made their run back at us. Usually the third quarter is our quarter. I think we held them to about six points up until a minute or two in the third quarter. Our defense was really good, causing a lot of turnovers. We just got on the break. Our bigs did a really good job of running and I think that tired their bigs out a little.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

On if this game made a statement nationally:
“I can see that. I guess people don’t respect us as much because we are not on TV as much. I guess we’re not as big of a broadcast team like the [Los Angeles] Clippers and the [Los Angeles] Lakers and the [New York] Knicks. I think we made a statement tonight on TNT. Like, ‘Hey, notice us. Pay attention.’ ”

On his one-on-one defense:
“I am more focused on my defense because I want Coach [George Karl] to leave me in the fourth quarter and be able to have faith and my teammates to say ‘switch’ and have faith that I can guard a guard or whoever is in front of me. No hesitation, no help and be able to stay at home on shooters. I think that is what I am trying to do more and trying to focus on it and locked in on and stay down in a stance more.”

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau

On the second half:
“It was an offensive game in the first half; we scored 58 and I think they scored 63 [points]. They came out and started the third quarter and just smoked us. They played very good defense; they had 37 in the third, got a big cushion and that was the game.”

On playing better defense:
“Until we change that, it’s not going to be good so we will just make it an offensive game and go wherever they want the ball to go. We are not containing the ball, not keeping it out of the paint, not getting shots, not rebounding the balls. It is very difficult to win with that.”

On Kenneth Faried:
“We have seen him. First half, he just kicked our (butt).” On the fourth quarter defense:
“We didn’t play well. It would be nice to challenge somebody at the rim.”

On Joakim Noah:
“He was rusty. A lot of his game is finesse and timing and it will come back. I thought he played fairly well but he just has to get out there and play.”

Bulls center Joakim Noah

On the loss:
“We didn’t play well defensively. We didn’t play well offensively. They beat us down the court every time. It was just an embarrassing loss. I’m holding up. Right now it’s just embarrassing the way we played. We’ve just got to come back ready to go tomorrow.”

On Kenneth Faried:
“He played very well. He’s a great athlete, a great runner and he played very well.” On the team’s frustrations:
“I don’t think coach is the only one that’s hot right now. Everybody is hot.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Wilson Chandler had his best game in a Nuggets uniform, finishing with 24 points in just 19 minutes off the bench. Chandler’s 24 points ranks as the second most points in a game by a player playing 19 minutes or less this season, just behind Isaiah Thomas’s 26 points vs. OKC on 12/14.

• Additionally, Chandler made all five of his three-point attempts, marking just the fifth time in his career that he has connected on at least five three pointers. Chandler finished 8-of-9 from the field for a career-high .890.

• Kenneth Faried recorded his 33rd career double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds on 9-of-10 shooting. Faried made his first eight shots, marking the first time in his career that he has started a game with eight-straight makes from the field. Faried’s first miss came with 7:03 left in the 3rd quarter.

• The Nuggets are now 28-5 when Faried posts a double-double, and are 21-1 when he accomplishes this at the Pepsi Center. It is Faried’s 7th career 20-10 game.

• Faried is the first player this season to record 21 points and 12 rebounds while shooting at least 90-percent from the field. The last player to accomplish this was Nikola Pekovic on 2/11/12 vs. NYK. Additionally, he’s the first Nugget to reach those numbers since Nene on 1/30/09 vs. CHA (22 points, 12 rebounds, 91-percent shooting).

• Ty Lawson finished the game with 16 points and 12 assists, just the seventh time in his career that he has done this (sixth time this season). The Nuggets are now 6-1 when Lawson reaches those numbers. Over Denver’s eight-game win streak, Lawson is averaging 18.9 points per game and 8.1 assists per game.

• JaVale McGee registered 10 points and three blocks in just 15 minutes off the bench. Over his last four games, McGee is averaging 11.0 points per game 3.00 blocks per game.

• Daequan Cook led the Bulls in points with 19 off the bench. It is just the 10th game of Cook’s career where he has scored at least 19 points while making at least four three pointers, and first time this season.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Bulls 128-96 tonight, extending their winning streak to a season-long eight games. It is Denver’s longest win streak since they won eight straight from 1/11/10 to 1/27/10. Denver has now won 12 of their last 13 home games against Chicago, including six straight.

• Denver’s 32-point victory is their second largest ever over Chicago (won by 33 on 11/20/79 at CHI) and their largest home win ever over the Bulls (previous was a 25-point win vs. CHI on 2/8/90).

• The Nuggets’ 128 points is a new season-high (was 126 on 12/26 vs. LAL) and their most points since they had 131 at MIN on 4/26/12. Denver has now won 31 of their last 32 home games when scoring 100+ points.

• The Nuggets outrebounded the Bulls 46 to 34 tonight, improving to 16-1 when outrebounding their opponent at home.

• The Nuggets registered 28 points off turnovers compared to the Bulls’ 10 and are now 21-3 when outscoring their opponent in points off turnovers.

• Kenneth Faried (21) and Wilson Chandler (24) both had 20 + points and Denver is now 12-4 when two-or-more players have 20+.

• Kenneth Faried (21 points, 12 rebounds) and Ty Lawson (16 points, 12 assists) both registered double-double and Denver is now 9-1 when two-plus players record double-doubles.

• Denver shot .581 (50-86 FG) from the field, their highest field goal percentage since they shot .582 vs. DET on 3/21/12. Denver is 8-0 when shooting 50%-or-better at home.

• The Nuggets recorded 11 steals tonight and are now 17-3 when they have 10-or-more steals.

• Denver was 9-of-19 (.474) from beyond the arc and are now 9-1 on the year when hitting nine-or-more threes.