10 Observations: Bulls drop second game of back-to-back against Denver Nuggets

The Bulls lost their second game of a two-day back-to-back against the Denver Nuggets.

Here are 10 observations from the game:

— As noted yesterday, Ayo Dosunmu did not play in Saturday’s game due to a respiratory illness. Several players — DeMar DeRozan (questionable, rest), Zach LaVine (probable, back), Patrick Williams (probable, finger) and Alex Caruso (probable, shoulder) — landed on the injury report. All of them, except Dosunmu, played.

— For the second straight game, Billy Donovan stuck with Torrey Craig in the starting lineup and brought Patrick Williams in off the bench. Williams thrived in this role on Friday, scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting with the second line. (More on him later.)

— The Bulls’ defense stood out in the first half. The Nuggets run a very fluid offense on account of Nikola Jokic’s supreme passing vision and ability. But the Bulls clogged the passing lanes and forced turnovers. They kept Jokic to 11 first-half points, while Murray finished with 2 points on account of a hamstring injury that forced him out of the game.

— Against the Nets on Friday, the Bulls failed to execute through Nikola Vucevic, despite Brooklyn’s undersized lineup. That wasn’t the case on Saturday. The Bulls got their big man going quickly. He opened up with 13 points in the first half on 11 shots. Though, he finished with just four second-half points, notching 19.

— The Bulls took a page out of the Nets’ playbook, picking up the pace in their game against the Nuggets. They notched 8 first-quarter fast break points — the most fast break points they’ve scored in a quarter this season. They finished with 16, one more than the Nuggets.

Jevon Carter stood out on both sides of the ball. A nifty guard, Carter created plays for others, and himself, with his crafty movements and ball handling. He was electric from behind the arc, too, hitting four 3-point shots and finishing with 16 points off the bench. His performance may not bode well for Dosunmu’s minutes when the latter returns from his illness.

— The Nuggets came out of halftime flying on offense. This is where the Bulls lost all control of the game. They opened with an 8-0 run, hitting several 3-point shots from several characters. The Nuggets scored 35 points in the third quarter and 37 in the fourth, giving them 72 second-half points. Yikes.

— The 3-point battle was won by a landslide in favor of the home team. The Nuggets hit nine more 3-point shots than the Bulls, finishing 16-of-36 (44.4%) from behind the arc. The Bulls, unlike their game against the Nets, struggled from downtown. They shot 7-of-27 from 3-point land.

— Williams didn’t quite have the game he executed on Friday night. He finished with seven points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field. He definitely showed some aggression on both sides of the ball. He fielded an offensive rebound and drove the lane, as his 3-point shot wasn’t falling (0-of-5).

— The battle of the stars did not fall in the Bulls’ favor, as you can presume. DeRozan and LaVine combined for 29 points on 11-of-28 shooting from the field. Jokic, while without his main partner in Jamal Murray, got help from Michael Porter Jr. by way of 27 points. They each shot 9-of-16 from the field, respectively.

— The Bulls (2-5) will try to right the ship on Monday back at the United Center against the Utah Jazz (2-5), who have the same number of wins as the Bulls.

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