During Tom Thibodeau’s tenure as Bulls head coach, the team has been known for stingy defense, giving a consistently hard effort and on a nightly basis, playing with pride.
None of those elements were present Thursday night at the Pepsi Center, as the Bulls (29-20) were thoroughly embarrassed by the Nuggets (32-18), getting uncharacteristically blown out, 128-96, for simultaneously Thibodeau’s largest margin of defeat and most points allowed since taking over in 2010.
Whether he was motivated by the day’s trade rumors or simply knocked off some of his layoff-related rust, Carlos Boozer (18 points), in his second game back in the lineup after a three-game absence due to a right-hamstring injury, seemed to find his rhythm early in helping the visitors take an early advantage.
However, Thibodeau’s worst fears subsequently came true, as the high-flying hosts got out in transition, with back-to-back spectacular dunks by recently-announced All-Star weekend dunk-contest participant Kenneth Faried (21 points, 12 rebounds) and versatile swingman Andre Iguodala (14 points) allowed the Nuggets to seize the lead and prompted an early timeout.
Led by Faried wreaking havoc and reserve swingman Wilson Chandler (24 points) serving as an offensive spark off the bench, Denver extended their advantage to double digits, playing at a fast pace that necessitated its guests going to a small-ball lineup—reserves Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson replaced Boozer and Joakim Noah, who returned to the court after missing three games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot; it showed in the All-Star’s conditioning and overall rust—though that still didn’t stop the Nuggets’ surge.
At the conclusion of the opening period, the Bulls managed to make it a single-digit affair again, but still trailed, 33-25, following a late triple by Butler.
Bulls uncharacteristically embarrassed by Nuggets in blowout loss
CSN Chicago | Feb 8