DENVER (TICKER) —The Chicago Bulls find it hard enough to win on the road without crucial calls going against them.
Chris Whitney forced overtime with a late 3-pointer despite having has foot on the line and scored seven of his 18 points in the extra session as the Denver Nuggets held on for a 102-100 victory over the Bulls.
Chicago completed a winless five-game road trip and fell to a league-worst 2-25 on the road after an erroneous call sent the game into overtime. The Bulls gave up a late 3-pointer in Phoenix on Monday before losing in overtime.
“Things just keep happening to us,” Chicago forward Donyell Marshall said. “They come down and hit the phantom three - that’s what I call it. We can just never get over that hump. What do we need to do?”
The Nuggets had not played an overtime game this season until Whitney buried a leaning 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left. Although his foot appeared to be on the line, the game went on after Bulls forward Jamal Crawford missed a runner at the buzzer.
“The play was for me to come off a screen. If the shot was there for me, I take it. I had no problem taking the shot,” said Whitney, who denied that his foot was on the line. “The replay lied. It lied this time. Sometimes you have to be lucky.”
“We cannot go look at the monitor unless there are two zeros on the clock and it is a reviewable matter,” referee Ron Garretson said. “The time on the goal was 2.6, so we are not able to go look and see if his foot was on the line or not. Out on the floor, it is what it is.”
Former Nugget Jalen Rose, who was defending Whitney on the play, had a clear view.
“I knew right away that his foot was on the line,” Rose said. “It’s unfortunate for our team. I was the one that switched to him, so I knew it was not a three. Had the shot been a two and not a three, we would have won. I asked the ref if they could review it and it seemed like at first they didn’t really know.”
Chicago’s Tyson Chandler opened overtime with a layup and teammate Crawford added a jumper at the 2:55 mark. But the Bulls would not score again until Rose made a layup with seven seconds to go.
Rookie Junior Harrington gave Denver the lead for good at 96-95 on a breakaway dunk - his first points of the game - with 1:53 left. Whitney sank 7-of-8 free throws in the extra session, including four in the final 17 seconds to lift the Nuggets to their second straight victory.
Harrington made 1-of-2 free throws for a 100-97 lead with 6.9 seconds left. After Chicago called timeout to advance the ball, Chandler caught the ensuing inbounds pass in the frontcourt and inexplicably threw it to Crawford in the backcourt for a turnover.
Whitney was fouled with 1.1 seconds remaining and sank both free throws as Denver secured its first winning streak since early January. The Nuggets made just 1-of-5 shots in overtime but were 9-of-12 from the line.
Juwan Howard collected 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Denver, which won for the first time in 32 games this season when allowing more than 83 points. The lowest-scoring team in the NBA improved to 1-2 when reaching 100 points.
“It is really hard to know what to say about after a game like this,” Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “Both teams competed very hard, and both teams really wanted this one. We just hit some really timely shots. Chris Whitney did a lot of good things for us tonight and hit some big shots.”
Marshall scored 21 points and Rose finished with 20 for Chicago, which has lost its last five meetings with Denver and is winless in its last four visits to the Pepsi Center.
“I told our guys we should be happy with the fact that we got into a position where we could win the game,” Bulls coach Bill Cartwright said. “I am disappointed that we could not win the game. I thought the officials were a big factor in the game. The 3-point shot call was brutal. How could all three officials miss the call?”
Howard capped a 7-2 run with consecutive dunks to give Denver an 82-79 lead with 2:30 left in regulation. But Rose responded with consecutive 3-pointers, his first points since the 3:37 mark of the second quarter.
Hilario made two free throws and Whitney buried a jumper for an 86-85 lead with 49 seconds left. Rose and Crawford each buried a pair of free throws for an 89-86 edge.
White sank a fadeaway jumper to narrow Chicago’s lead to one, but Rose sank two free throws with 12.5 seconds remaining. Whitney was forced to pick up his dribble on the final possession and could not find an open teammate before turning and heaving the controversial shot that forced overtime.