Nuggets 119, Bulls 118 (OT)

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- An action-packed game was ultimately decided on an officials' review at the end of overtime, and the Denver Nuggets stretched their win streak to 12 games with a 119-118 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday at the United Center.

The disputed play was a baseline jumper by Chicago's Marco Belinelli that was tipped into the hoop by Joakim Noah. After reviewing the play, the referees decided Noah touched the ball while it was in the cylinder. Had the ball gone the other way, the Bulls would have taken a one-point lead with 1.7 seconds remaining.

The winning basket turned out to be a 3-pointer from Denver's Andre Iguodala with 7.1 seconds left, the fifth lead change in overtime.

Bulls guard Nate Robinson tied the score with 13.4 seconds to go in the fourth quarter with a 3-point basket after Chicago trailed 96-87 with 4:32 remaining.

Denver's Wilson Chandler scored 35 points, tying his career high. Robinson scored 34 points for the Bulls.

For most of the night, the short-handed Bulls didn't seem to have the firepower to stick with Denver, one of the league's deepest teams playing at full strength.

Chicago allowed 30 fast-break points and plenty of dunks yet stayed within striking distance.

Robinson knocked down a 3-point shot and was fouled, completing a four-point play to trim the margin to 83-79 with 9:29 left. Denver answered with a Chandler lay-in and a non-contact dunk by JaVale McGee, who soared above Noah and tossed the ball down through the next without touching the rim.

The Bulls pulled within 99-96 with 2:24 left on two free throws by Jimmy Butler. The teams traded baskets until Noah blocked a driving layup by Andre Miller, leading to a long jumper from Belinelli that made it 103-102 with 1:03 left.

Miller answered with a driving bank shot, and then Belinelli air-balled a jumper. However, a traveling call on Miller with 17.7 seconds left set the stage for Robinson's tying 3-pointer.

Denver made 14 of its first 16 field-goal attempts in the second quarter and opened a 14-point lead.

The Nuggets seemed content to back away defensively and let the Bulls shoot from long range, knowing a missed shot most likely would lead to a long rebound and a fast-break opportunity.

Denver's lack of defense helped keep the score reasonable, though. Chicago scored on its last seven possessions of the second quarter to stay within 53-45 at halftime.

The Nuggets remain in a virtual tie with the Memphis Grizzlies for fourth place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for third.

"For a young team, it's tougher-minded than most I've coached," Denver coach George Karl said of his squad. "I think they see the picture. They see the problem at hand is home court. We know we play well in Denver, and everyone else (knows it), too."

NOTES: The Bulls were hoping to get at least one of their injured players back on Monday, but it didn't happen. Forward Taj Gibson seems to be closest to making a return. He has missed 10 games with a sprained left knee. Kirk Hinrich has been out seven games with a sore right foot. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Hinrich didn't do much at Monday's shootaround. Richard Hamilton is out indefinitely with a sore lower back. ... There was still no word on when Bulls star Derrick Rose might return from knee surgery. It could realistically happen any day or not until next season. ... Karl was asked before the game if the Nuggets can get to the Finals without a traditional go-to superstar. "Definitively, yes," he said. "I'm tired of the dang question. First of all, 50 percent of all games are won on the defensive end. ... I think versatility is better than one guy."
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