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Nuggets dominate Bulls in all facets

The Bulls’ C.J. Watsdrives around Nuggets’ Al Harringtfirst quarter Monday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

The Bulls’ C.J. Watson drives around the Nuggets’ Al Harrington in the first quarter Monday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 28, 2012 8:18AM

Just a bad night? We’ll see.

The Bulls won the opening tip but little else in a 108-91 loss Monday to the Denver Nuggets at the United Center. They were outplayed, outshot, outrebounded, outhustled and out-everythinged in the thrashing.

Ty Lawson, the Nuggets’ 5-11 point guard, had nine rebounds. Joakim Noah, the Bulls’ 6-11 center, had five.

‘‘We just laid an egg,’’ said Noah, who avoided a suspension for getting ejected Saturday against the Toronto Raptors but served his punishment on the court, with two points on 1-for-5 shooting and zero offensive rebounds.

‘‘We didn’t have it tonight,’’ said guard Kyle Korver, whose 4-for-4
three-point shooting and 14 points were wasted. ‘‘Not making excuses — we’ve shown that whoever we put out there can win — but it all starts with playing hard. We just didn’t have our edge tonight.’’

The Bulls (40-11) still have the best record in the NBA. They still have won 15 of their last 18 games. They played their seventh consecutive game without point guard Derrick Rose (groin). And they were playing a desperate Nuggets team fighting the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.

They were able to survive back-to-back lackluster efforts last week against the Raptors. But after taking an 8-0 lead in the first 1:44 of the game, the Bulls were thoroughly outplayed, setting a season high in red flags:

† The leading rebounding team in the NBA was outrebounded for the second consecutive game, this time 45-32.

† The Bulls had a season-low five offensive rebounds. They average 13.8 and never had fewer than eight.

† They were outscored 27-16 in the third quarter.

† They barely put up a fight once the Nuggets took control. After the Nuggets started the third quarter with a 10-0 run to open a 64-52 lead, the Bulls never got closer than eight points.

‘‘I was concerned right at the start of the game,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘Even though we got off to the 8-0 start, it wasn’t our type of game. It was up and down, free and easy. We let our guard down, and you can’t do that. We never got set defensively. Our rebounding effort was poor from start to finish.’’

C.J. Watson led the Bulls with 17 points, but he and Ronnie Brewer were dominated by the Nuggets’ backcourt of Lawson (27 points) and Arron Afflalo (22 points).
Andre Miller added 12 points, 10
assists and three steals.

But the Nuggets were just as dominant inside. Carlos Boozer scored 14 points, but only eight
after the first two minutes. Luol Deng (nine points on 3-for-9 shooting) and Noah were ineffective.

The Bulls could have used Rose, but missing him wasn’t their biggest problem.

‘‘We’ve proven we have more than enough to win [without Rose],’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘We’re confident in the guys that are here. We didn’t play the way we should have. Derrick had nothing to do with that.’’

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