The Chicago Bulls came out looking a little too well-rested.
Momentum is a real thing and having three days off can sometimes come with its negatives, especially for a team that has already struggled mightly with slow starts.
The Bulls pretty much came out with zero sense of urgency. They scored just 20 points in the opening frame while the Denver Nuggets couldn’t have looked more in their element. A top-3 offense in the NBA, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets picked the Bulls apart with smart off-ball movement, great passing, and efficient shotmaking.
They shot 60.5 percent over the first two quarters and added an assist to the board with 21 of their first 23 made field goals. Jokic had 12 of those assists because … well … of course.
Still, despite the total and utter dominance by Denver in the first two quarters, we couldn’t call this game over. Not only have we seen the Bulls fight back from steeper deficits in the past, but Denver has faced their own struggles on the defensive end. Overcoming a 15-point disadvantage still felt possible … until Michael Porter Jr. found some of Stephen Curry’s secret stuff.
The 24 year old single-handedly crushed the Bulls’ spirit. He scored 16 of his 31 points in the 3rd quarter behind four made 3s. Even when the Bulls were in a position to contest his shots, Porter sank them with ease. This honestly became the theme of the night, as Denver finished the game with an absurd 60.0 percent performance from the field.
Is there shame in losing to the Nuggets? Absolutely not. But there is shame in not putting up a geninue fight, and that’s what it felt like the Bulls did tonight. They played disjointed and disinterested, which felt like a step backward after the high-energy efforts we saw in games against Boston, Toronto, and Brooklyn.
Indeed, even when the Bulls have struggled this season to find a rhythm on the offensive end or close out games, they haven’t necessarily let it impact their effort level. Unfortunately, I’m not sure we can say the same tonight, and all we can hope is that doesn’t become a trend over the next few games.
Check out the full box score here.