Gordon leads undermanned Bulls to thorough win over NuggetsFeb 21, 2009 - 5:50 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Entering the game shorthanded, the Chicago Bulls needed everyone to contribute. They all did more than their part against the Denver Nuggets.
Ben Gordon scored a season-high 37 points and all five starters scored in double figure as the Bulls routed the Nuggets, 116-99, on Friday night.
"When teams have their backs against a wall, they tend to play better," Gordon said. "It increases your focus."
Luol Deng added 22 points and 12 rebounds and Tyrus Thomas collected 21 and 12 for Chicago, which dressed just eight and played seven for extended minutes. The last man on the bench, 38-year-old Lindsey Hunter, saw just one minute.
According to coach Vinny Del Negro, it was a team effort in the wake of the undermanned situation.
"The guys have stepped up and done all the smart things, to get us through what has been going on the last few days," the Bulls' coach said. "I like the way we are going and our practices are better. We are starting to transfer that to the games."
The Bulls, who completed a flurry of deals in the days leading up to Thursday's trade deadline, acquired swingman John Salmons and center Brad Miller from the Sacramento Kings in a three-team, seven-player deal on Wednesday.
Chicago shipped forwards Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni and Cedric Simmons to Sacramento and center Michael Ruffin to the Portland Trail Blazers, who dealt Ike Diogu to the Kings.
Just hours before the deadline, they shipped out guard Larry Hughes to the New York Knicks, who sent back forward Tim Thomas, guard Anthony Roberson and center Jerome James. However, none of the new players were available in this one.
However, the Bulls did have Gordon - a volume scorer with the ability to take over a game. He shot 13-of-23 from the field, including 4-of-7 from the arc, in this one.
"I always feel like I can (take over offensively)," Gordon said. "It just depends on the game. But that's what my teammates need me to do. I felt I started out lazy, but then was able to turn it on."
Chauncey Billups scored 25 points for the Nuggets, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
It was an up-and-down first half, with Denver taking a 31-19 lead after one but getting outscored, 35-23, in the second quarter. Nuggets coach George Karl admitted that it all boiled down to Gordon at the end.
"I felt once they caught us we played well and had some sort of consciousness on defense," the coach said. "Second quarter got to be a offensive game, and we never got our defense restructured to a comfort zone. Then, Ben Gordon got a little crazy."
Perhaps getting their legs after the first two quarters, the Bulls held a 17-point advantage in the second half.
"The first half I wasn't happy with the amount of turnovers we had," Del Negro said. "The second half was better ... we hit the glass and Ben came in and had a big game. This is a good win for us, and I am happy for our guys."
Chicago shot 51 percent (40-of-79) from the field and outrebounded Denver, 45-36.
The lethargic effort by the Nuggets included superstar Carmelo Anthony, who scored 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting. He attributed his poor play to his bruised left knee.
"Yeah I was (in pain), but I had to get out there my team needed my presence out there somewhere," Anthony said. "Hopefully I helped somewhat, but I was limited."
CHICAGO 116 FINAL
Feb 20 10:55 PM
CHICAGO 83 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 20 10:19 PM
CHICAGO 54 HALFTIME
Feb 20 9:37 PM
CHICAGO 21 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 20 9:05 PM
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