Nuggets continue busy stretch against Bulls
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CHICAGO -- The Denver Nuggets have exhibited a propensity for looking past certain teams in certain situations over the past couple of seasons.
After coach Michael Malone made sure his team didn't do it again Monday to keep building on what has already been a positive start to the season, the Nuggets will have to make sure they don't do it again on Wednesday.
Denver (5-1) is already in a busy stretch during which the Nuggets will play five games in eight days. After holding off the Anthony Davis-less New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, the Nuggets will now face a Chicago Bulls team that allowed 149 points in a loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Malone's message to his team will likely be the same.
"The last couple of years, there were games when I think our team just felt like we could show up," Malone told reporters, according the Denver Post, after the Nuggets' 116-111 victory over the Pelicans on Monday. "We'd have a disappointing performance or a loss. And when you've come so close two years in a row, you can't put yourself in that same position again."
Gary Harris paced Denver with 23 points, six rebounds and six assists while Jamal Murray also contributed 23 points while Nikola Jokic finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
The balanced scoring attack for the Nuggets has propelled Denver to its quick start out of the gate. Now, as the Nuggets prepare to face the injury-riddled Bulls Wednesday at the United Center, they hope to build on a palpable sense of positivity that surrounds the team.
"There's a different vibe around this team," Harris told reporters after Monday's victory. "Everybody can feel it. The defense could have been better tonight, but we keep getting these wins. That's the point of it all -- the wins."
Chicago, meanwhile, must recover from a one-sided 149-124 loss to the Warriors at home Monday in which the Bulls surrendered 92 points in the first half. The Bulls were helpless to watch Golden State's Klay Thompson connect on an NBA record 14 3-point field goals.
Afterward, coach Fred Hoiberg's assessment was simple.
"It's pretty simple," Hoiberg told reporters, according to the Chicago Tribune. "We got our ass kicked."
The Bulls trailed by 42 at halftime as Golden State shot 62 percent from the field. Chicago (2-5) won't have much time to recover before a team that is already playing without three injured starters in Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis must find a way to be much more competitive than it was in Monday's lackluster showing.
"We have to have better energy, better toughness," guard Zach LaVine told reporters on Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "We just didn't have it. That's on us. They played the way they were supposed to."
LaVine and Antonio Blakeney each scored 21 points in the loss for Chicago.
Among the lessons learned from Monday's debacle against the Warriors was the fact that by surrendering so many points -- especially early -- the Bulls allowed an opponent to fall into a groove. Hoiberg knows that can't happen again against Denver on Wednesday.
"(The Warriors) just got too comfortable early," Hoiberg said, according to the Tribune. "And once a team like that gains confidence, it's hard to shut them off."
Updated October 30, 2018