Chicago has won four straight to pull three games over .500 and
into fourth place in the underwhelming Eastern Conference. “It’s
been a hell of a turnaround,” center Joakim Noah told
ESPNChicago.com. “Definitely. But we’re not satisfied with being
three games over .500. Just like (coach Tom Thibodeau) says all the
time, ‘things change quick in this league.'" The Nuggets are hoping
Thursday’s triumph sparks a quick change in its own fortunes, as
they sit six games out of the final playoff spot in the Western
Conference after being the No. 3 seed last season.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Altitude (Denver), WCIU (Chicago)
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (25-28): Denver has been without an adequate
backup at point guard since Andre Miller was suspended from the team
and the Nuggets finally moved the disgruntled veteran in a
three-team deal that brought back forward Jan Vesely from the
Washington Wizards. Denver was not done fixing the point guard
situation and also swapped forward Jordan Hamilton to the Houston
Rockets in exchange for veteran Aaron Brooks, who can handle the
point along with Randy Foye until Ty Lawson (rib) is ready to
return. Foye handed out 10 assists on Thursday as the Nuggets got a
combined 55 points on 23-of-32 shooting from the starting frontcourt
of Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson and Wilson Chandler.
[to top of second column]
ABOUT THE BULLS (28-25): Denver will have a tougher time scoring in
the frontcourt against Chicago, which ranks second in the NBA in
points allowed and boasts All-Star Noah in the middle. Forward
Carlos Boozer was rumored to be on the trade block but the Bulls
ended up keeping the high-priced veteran, who provides a strong
tandem with Taj Gibson at the four spot. Chicago is limiting
opponents to 84.8 points over the last four games and has allowed
only one of its last 11 opponents to reach 100 points.
Bulls sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy is just 8-for-36 from beyond the
arc in the last nine games.
The Nuggets have taken five straight and seven of the last eight
in the series, including a 97-87 home win on Nov. 21.
Denver C JaVale McGee, who has been out since Nov. 8, underwent
surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left tibia and is out for
PREDICTION: Bulls 96, Nuggets 89
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