The Bulls will try to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time Wednesday night when they visit the Atlanta Hawks, who may be showing signs of fatigue as they continue a grueling stretch.
The Bulls (40-11) fell to 12-5 this season when playing without Rose after losing 108-91 to Denver on Monday - their most lopsided defeat of the season.
Rose has missed the last seven games with a groin injury and his team is showing signs of its impact. After having to overcome a double-digit deficit twice in a home-and-home sweep of Toronto last week, Chicago (40-11) faded in the second half against the Nuggets, getting outscored 54-39.
“We miss him when we win. Come on, it’s Derrick Rose,” said Kyle Korver, who scored 14 points. “It wasn’t scoring points, though. We’ve won a lot of games scoring 91 points or less. We just got to play better defense and we can do that with or without Derrick.”
The Bulls, who lead Miami by 3 1/2 games for the top seed in the East, were outrebounded for a second straight game and allowed the Nuggets to shoot 50.0 percent - the first time an opponent made at least half its shots against them since Phoenix on Jan. 17.
With Rose not expected to play Wednesday and Luol Deng playing through a wrist injury, Chicago is looking for someone to step up.
Carlos Boozer, who is averaging 15.5 points, has been held below that mark in three of the last five games, while Joakim Noah, who was ejected in the second quarter Saturday, finished with two points and five rebounds in nearly 23 minutes Monday.
While this will be the third game in seven nights for the Bulls, the Hawks (30-21) will be playing for the fifth time in six nights Tuesday.
Atlanta had a season high-tying four-game winning streak snapped with a 108-101 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday.
The Hawks were coming off a four-overtime win over Utah on Sunday, which may have been to blame for the slow start. Atlanta trailed by 17 in the second quarter, then faded late after rallying.
Josh Smith had 30 points and 18 rebounds, but Joe Johnson, who played 55 minutes and had 37 points against the Jazz, was held to 11 points Tuesday. He received stitches in his lip after colliding with a teammate and missed much of the first quarter and part of the second.
Zaza Pachulia, who had 15 points and a career-high 20 rebounds Sunday, scored seven points and added seven boards.
The Hawks had 22 turnovers - 10 in the first quarter - leading to 25 points for the Bucks.
“We had way, way too many turnovers,” coach Larry Drew said. “You can’t expect to win if you turn the ball over like that, particularly on the road.”
Chicago has won two of three against Atlanta this season, with both victories coming at home. The Hawks scored fewer than 80 points in both of the losses, but won 109-94 at Philips Arena in January.
Atlanta has won seven of the last eight home meetings, with those victories coming by an average of 14.1 points.
Johnson is averaging 13.0 points against the Bulls this season - more than six below his team-leading season average.