for this game

Gordon scores 37 as Bulls beat Nuggets

Feb 23, 2008 - 5:33 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Ben Gordon scored 37 points as the new-look Chicago Bulls surprised the Denver Nuggets with a shorthanded, 135-121, victory on Friday.

Andres Nocioni scored a season-high 21 points for the Bulls, who closed out the first half on a 13-0 run for a season-best 68 points at the break.

Denver was paced by J.R. Smith's career-high 43 points, including seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Allen Iverson also finished with 29 points and nine assists for the Nuggets, who had no answer for the hot-shooting Bulls.

"How about the new-look Chicago Bulls?" Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "It was like an old Pittsburgh Condors-Virginia Squires game. There was not a lot of defense being played out there."

Smith's barrage of 3-pointers helped close a 23-point second-half deficit down to just four in the fourth quarter.

"It was one of those days where I just couldn't miss," Smith said. "It's too bad that it was not enough to get us the 'W'."

After Smith's shot from the arc made it 111-107 with just seven minutes to play, Gordon scored 10 points - including two 3-pointers - on the Bulls' 15-3 run to put the game out of reach.

"I had a good rhythm going tonight," Gordon said. "I just tried to take my shot when I was open and I tried to stay aggressive."

Chicago only suited up 11 as the four new players acquired in Thursday's three-team trade with the Seattle SuperSonics and Cleveland Cavaliers were not eligible.

"We slept through Chicago," Smith said. "We thought after the trade and missing some guys that they would not come out as hard. They proved us wrong."

The Bulls were missing forwards Drew Gooden and Cedric Simmons, and guards Larry Hughes and Shannon Brown, who were all part of the 11-player deal involving former Bulls center Ben Wallace on Thursday.

Both clubs started the second half trading baskets, then Chicago pulled away - opening its biggest lead at 92-69 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.

The Bulls still held a 101-87 edge after three periods before the Nuggets started their comeback behind Smith.

"You don't expect J.R. Smith to hit 43 points, but he had a big game," Boylan said. "In the end, our guys stepped up and continued to hit big shots and help us get this win."

"This is what happens when (you) don't respect the opponent," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We made some runs to comeback but the holes we had to dig out of were just too big."

Tyrus Thomas had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Kirk Hinrich added 16 and 14 assists for Chicago, which had lost eight of its previous 12 contests.

"This game was a lot of fun," Hinrich said. "I don't think we have played that well in this building all season long."