To conclude their preseason, the Chicago Bulls hosted the Denver Nuggets at the United Center on Friday night. With a strong second half, the Bulls were able to turn the game around and achieve a 94-89 preseason finale win.
Kirk Hinrich sat out the preseason finale after suffering a concussion and hurting his shoulder in last Friday’s win over the Indiana Pacers. Joakim Noah was also inactive due to lingering problems with his groin. Nazr Mohammed started in Noah’s place yet again.
Chicago struggled greatly in the first half, particularly with their offense. The game started out slow for both teams, as each team’s scoring was near even to begin with. However, Denver was able to get the hang of things a lot quicker. Ty Lawson, specifically, got going in the first quarter with 11 points on 5-of-7 from the field.
Towards the conclusion of the first quarter, the Bulls got their offense going a bit with the help of Luol Deng, but they were unable to carry this into the next quarter. Chicago went extremely cold scoring only two points halfway through the second. It wasn’t until the starters returned to the game that the scoring woes were taken care of. With the aggression of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, the backcourt duo helped cut down their deficit. Denver led 48-36 by the the halftime rolled around. Despite that, the Bulls still shot horribly overall in the first half at 32.0 percent.
The tides turned in the second half, though. The sense of urgency and aggression Chicago seemed to lack from the start of the game had vanished. Settling for jumpers was no longer the first option. Attacking the paint was actually a scoring option the Bulls went to. With contributions from all of the starters, the Nuggets’ lead became a thing of the past. In the later half of the third period, Rose assisted Deng on a right-wing three to attain the Bulls’ first lead of the game, 60-58.
Unlike the first half, Chicago got to the charity stripe a lot more, and it allowed them to extend the lead slowly. But Denver wasn’t ready to lose just yet. In the fourth quarter, the Bulls’ defense broke down a bit. As a result, the Nuggets were able to tie the game at 85 with approximately two minutes remaining in the game. In the end, Chicago used free throws to gain back the lead, maintain it, and achieve their final victory of the preseason.
Carlos Boozer led all scorers with 24 points added 10 rebounds for a double-double. Deng also achieved a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds while Rose nearly had one with 15 points and eight assists.
After an 8-0 preseason, Chicago will begin the regular season on Tuesday, Oct. 29 to face the defending champions Miami Heat down in South Beach.