It was the road, the altitude, players out injured and resting. There were plenty of reasons as the Bulls trailed by double digits after a 16-0 Denver second quarter run and lost in to the Nuggets 112-94.
The Bulls were led by Nikola Mirotic with 18 points and Doug McDermott with 15 points. Rookie Bobby Portis added 10 points and was high with 16 rebounds, though most late. The Bulls are 1-1 in the preseason and play Minnesota in Winnipeg Saturday.
The Bulls went with the same starting lineup from the Tuesday opening night with E’Twaun Moore, Tony Snell, Jimmy Butler, Mirotic and Joakim Noah. The Bulls took a 21-20 first quarter lead with Mirotic scoring nine first quarter points. Butler had the highlight move with a drive splitting the defense and a behind the back pass to Mirotic for a slam dunk. But the Nuggets ran off 16 straight second quarter points against a sluggish and error prone Bulls second/third unit that didn’t improve when the starters returned as Denver led 57-34 at half. Mirotic had 16 in the half, but the Bulls had 13 turnovers and shot 31 percent. Hoiberg stuck to his plan of resting veterans and started McDermott and Portis for the second half. That young group made a little run, but then fell back to trail 87-67 after three in the game in Boulder, Colo.