Whitney also hit five free throws in the final 20.6 of overtime and Juwan Howard scored 30 points as the Nuggets defeated the Chicago Bulls 102-100 Tuesday night and won consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 8-10.
Without a timeout out, Whitney tied the game at 91 with a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left. Replays seemed to show that Whitney’s right foot was on the 3-point line.
“Sometimes you’ve got to be lucky,” said Whitney, who finished with 18 points. “I thought I got fouled on shots early in the first quarter so we’ll call it even.”
Chicago coach Bill Cartwright was irate that referee Bill Spooner even allowed it to be a 3-pointer.
“How can you call it a 3?” Cartwright said. “It’s irresponsible.”
Donyell Marshall led Chicago, which owns the NBA’s worst road record at 2-25, with 21 points. Jalen Rose added 20 points as the Bulls completed a five-game road trip winless. They have dropped six in a row on the road since a 115-102 win at Atlanta on Jan. 20. It was the second straight overtime defeat for the Bulls, who lost to the Phoenix Suns 115-111 on Monday.
The Bulls pulled ahead 95-92 on Jamal Crawford’s jumper two minutes into overtime, but Rodney White converted two free throws and, after Junior Harrington stole a pass by Rose and converted it into a layup, Denver led 96-95 with 1:53 left.
Chicago failed to score on its next two possessions. Crawford threw up an airball and then Rose missed a running one-hander with 43 seconds left. Whitney made only one free when fouled with 20 seconds left.
Trailing by five to start the final quarter, the Bulls went to Marshall, who made his first three shots of the fourth quarter to put them ahead 77-74 with 5:19 left. But Denver came back with a hook shot and a dunk by Howard to take an 80-77 lead. Rose then hit two straight 3-pointers, the second coming with 1:35 remaining, to give the Bulls an 85-82 lead.
The Bulls appeared to have the game won when Rose converted both free throws with 12 seconds left to put them ahead 91-88. That led to Whitney’s 3-pointer.
“We were out of timeouts and wanted to get a quick score,” Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “It didn’t necessarily have to be a 3, knowing that we would go back and foul them and at worst we hopefully have a chance for a 3.”
The Nuggets had little trouble against Chicago’s porous defense early, making their first five shots on layups and postups.
Bzdelik stomped his foot and yelled “shoot layups, not jumpers” after the Nuggets missed five straight long jumpers, and they responded by hitting 7 of 12 to take a 27-22 lead early in the second period.
Chicago opened the second quarter with four turnovers in the first four minutes and didn’t have a field goal until Jay Williams hit a 3-pointer with 6:54 left. The Nuggets closed the half with a 9-0 run capped by Nene Hilario’s finger roll in the last three seconds.
The Bulls took a 54-53 lead on Marshall’s layup and free throw early in the third period. Denver closed the quarter with layups by Mark Blount and Chris Andersen to take a 66-61 lead into the fourth quarter.
Marshall could only shake his head about losing in overtime on successive nights.
“It makes you wonder, why does this keep happening to us?” Marshall said. “Last night we played well, (Phoenix) gets a big 3 to send it into overtimeand tonight, they hit the phantom 3.”
Nuggets C/F Marcus Camby is improving but will likely be out at least until after the All-Star break. He has missed nine games since spraining his right ankle on Jan. 17. … Chicago’s Eddy Curry was called for a rare palming violation in the second quarter. … Chicago’s Tyson Chandler was called for atechnical foul after getting tangled with Hilario late in the second.