The Denver Nuggets preseason woes continued on Friday night, falling 131-113 to a gritty Chicago Bulls team. Putting the Bulls at 1-1 in preseason action and the Nuggets still searching for their first win of the year.
Bones Hyland led both teams in scoring, shooting efficiently from all areas of the court. Notching home 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, 4-of-8 from long-range, and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe.
Michael Porter Jr. also impressed with 20 points of his own to go along with seven rebounds and a couple of steals, all in 22 minutes of action, eight more than his previous outing.
Unfortunately, none of this was enough to overcome Chicago’s depth, as Denver was outscored in each quarter of the game and never led at any point in the contest.
Six Bulls players scored in double digits, highlighted by DeMar DeRozan’s 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field. Both Coby White and Javonte Green were active and explosive all night, each finishing with 15 points, respectively. Nikola Vucevic displayed his versatility as a passer, and Alex Caruso put on a defensive show finishing with three steals and a block.
Playing in front of a rowdy croud in the United Center, both teams got off to a hot start and saw just a single point seperating them by the end of the first quarter with a score of 27-26 in favor of Chicago. Then, both offenses caught fire and the game started to get out of hand.
In the second quarter, both teams combined for a whopping 82 points, with the Bulls outscoring the Nuggets 45-37. This left Denver down 72-63 at halftime, which was unfortunately too much for the team from Mile High to overcome in the second half.
The Bulls continued their dominance into the third quarter thanks to some balanced and efficient shooting off the bench, outscoring the Nuggets 33-24, before closing out the game with a final score of 131-113.
Positive takeaways from the game
Now, before we sound the alarm, it’s worth noting that the Denver Nuggets performed far better offensively compared to their frustrating preseason home opener against OKC.
Versus the Thunder, Denver shot a measly 41 percent from the field (37-of-90), 30 percent from deep (10-of-33) and 74 percent from the free-throw line (17-of-23). However, against Chicago, the Nuggets improved to 47 percent from the field (41-of-88), 41 percent from beyond the arc (14-of-34), and 81 percent from the charity stripe (17-of-21).
Not only was the team more efficient from all areas of the floor, but they did so without two of their stars in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, the latter of which left the game in the second quarter with “left thigh soreness” and did not return.
Obviously, going forward, the Denver Nuggets will need to maintain this level of efficiency while improving their overall point total and presence on the defensive end. Although, given the circumstances (and that it’s just a preseason game), there’s no reason for concern just yet.
It’s never going to be easy winning games when you lose the turnover battle and allow the other team to shoot better than 60 percent from the field. That being said, the Nuggets are still trying to find their groove with recent acquisitions DeAndre Jordan, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Bruce Brown all playing significant minutes.
Both Murray and Jokic are expected to return to the lineup sooner rather than later, and the team should begin to pick up momentum as we approach the start of the 2022-23 NBA season.
What’s next for the Denver Nuggets?
Monday, October 10th vs. Phoenix Suns
Wednesday, October 12th @ Los Angeles Clippers
Friday, October 14th @ Golden State Warriors