DENVER – Jamal Murray scored 22 of his 25 points in the third quarter, Nikola Jokic finished two rebounds shy of another triple-double and the Denver Nuggets cruised past the Bulls, 135-105, on Thursday night for their 12th straight home win over the Bulls.
The Bulls haven’t knocked off the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center since Feb. 8, 2006. The Bulls also remain winless in 2019, with their losing streak stretching to nine in a row.
Jokic had 18 points and 11 assists as the Nuggets bounced back from a 142-111 drubbing Tuesday at the hands of Golden State in a matchup of the top two teams in the Western Conference.
Lauri Markkanen scored 27 for a Bulls team that finished up a fruitless five-game trip.
The Nuggets showed no residual effects from the lopsided loss to the Warriors, in which they allowed an NBA-record, 51-point first quarter. Denver picked up the defensive intensity from the start and limited the Bulls to 47 points at halftime.
Denver led by as many as 40.
Jokic did a little bit of everything, including a move where he went around the waist with the ball to avoid a defender and drew a foul while making the shot. That kicked up chants of “M-V-P!”
Bulls coach Jim Boylen took a “charge” late in the first quarter, when Torrey Craig fell on top of him after tumbling out of bounds. The ball was awarded to the Bulls.
Bulls: Rookie forward Wendell Carter Jr. was ruled out with a sprained left thumb. He’s day to day. ... Guard Zach LaVine was held to eight points, well below his average of 23.2.
Nuggets: Guard Will Barton missed the game for personal reasons. ... Guard Gary Harris returned after missing five games with hamstring tightness and scored 14 points in 19 minutes as the Nuggets had seven players in double figures. ... Denver hit a season-high 20 3-pointers.
KEEPING THEM FRESH
Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been curtailing practices to keep his team fresh, especially in light of all their recent injuries.
“I don’t want to leave our fight in the gym and have nothing left in games,” he said.
Boylen appreciated Kris Dunn taking accountability for his less-than-stellar play in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the week. Dunn had six points and five turnovers against the Lakers.
“He took it on the chest that he’s got to play better for us to be successful. I’m just proud of him,” Boylen said. “What we’re striving for is to play better basketball and to own the ‘Bulls’ across our chest.”
Bulls: Host Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat on Saturday.
Nuggets: Finish a four-game homestand Saturday against Cleveland.
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