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Nuggets edge Bulls for 12th win in a row

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- After a video replay wiped out Joakim Noah's potential winning tip-in with 1.7 seconds left, the Chicago Bulls were fuming. Not necessarily about that call, but because a controversial basket scored by Denver was not reviewed.

When the teams left the floor Monday night at the United Center, the Nuggets had escaped with a 119-118 victory and extended their winning streak to 12 games, tying a franchise record.

Wilson Chandler equaled a career-high with 35 points and Andre Iguodala drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left in overtime.

"I'm proud of the way we stayed strong, especially at the end when we were down four (early in overtime) and made big shots," Denver coach George Karl said. "We're building confidence."

The second disputed basket started with a baseline jumper by Chicago's Marco Belinelli that was tipped into the hoop on its way down by Noah. After reviewing the play, the referees decided it was offensive goaltending.

It appeared Noah might have first made contact with the ball outside the cylinder, but a player on either side is not allowed to touch a ball on its downward flight that has a chance to hit the rim. Had the call gone the other way, the Bulls would have taken a one-point lead with 1.7 seconds remaining.

"There's no question it was goaltending," Karl said. "The ball was going to hit the rim."

The Bulls said the same thing about a tip-in by Denver center Kosta Koufos with 46.4 seconds left. The ball appeared to be sitting on the rim when Koufos touched it, but the basket stood and it gave the Nuggets a 116-115 lead.

"I asked them about Koufos' play and they told me because they didn't make the call, they couldn't review it," said Bulls coach Thibodeau, who yelled at officials after the final horn. "If that's the rule, they're right.

"My point is, at that point in the game, in a hard-fought game, that's why we have video review, to make sure we get it right. So we review one and we don't review the other?"

Noah was equally confused by the replay decisions. According to nba.com, the accuracy of goaltending calls can be reviewed by video during the final two minutes of regulation or at any point in overtime.

"I know the refs are doing the best they can in those situations, but it cost us the game today, so it's disappointing," Noah said. "How are you going to review that one but you're not going to review the one two plays before that?"

After trailing 96-87 with 4:32 remaining, the Bulls tied the score on a 3-pointer by Nate Robinson with 13.4 seconds remaining. Robinson led the Bulls with 34 points, and Luol Deng scored 21 points and played 50 minutes.

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. But Chicago endured 28 fast-break points and plenty of dunks to stay within striking distance for most of the second half.

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, where he 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 lay-in by Miller, leading to a long jumper from Belinelli to make it 103-102 with 1:03 left.

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

During the second quarter, Denver made 14 of its first 16 shots from the field and opened a 14-point lead. The Nuggets' 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.

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. 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 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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