Zach LaVine scores 32 to lead Bulls past Nuggets

Zach LaVine scored a game-high 32 points Monday night to lead five players in double figures as the shorthanded Chicago Bulls made it four wins in their last five games, stopping the Denver Nuggets 109-97 in Chicago.

LaVine canned 13 of 23 field goal attempts and dished out eight assists as the Bulls made up for the absence of Demar DeRozan, who before the game was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. DeRozan is fourth in the league in scoring at 26.4 points per game.

But Chicago didn’t need him on this night as it got others to pick up the slack. Nikola Vucevic and Lonzo Ball each added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Derrick Jones tallied 12 points and rookie Ayo Dosunmu hit for 11 in his first NBA start.

Nikola Jokic supplied a triple-double of 17 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds for Denver, although he made only 6 of 17 shots from the field. Will Barton and Monte Morris each scored 19 points, while Aaron Gordon added 18 and Jeff Green chipped in 14.

Denver got off to a strong start by using the 3-point line efficiently. While neither team shot the ball well in the first quarter, the Nuggets were at least able to can 5 of 10 3-pointers, enabling them to take a 27-18 advantage to the second period.

Chicago wasted little time putting its stamp on the game’s remainder, starting with the first nine points of the second quarter. LaVine even gave it a couple of brief leads before Denver answered back. A pair of free throws by Jokic with 4.7 seconds left made it 49-46 Nuggets at halftime.

The Bulls took charge in the third quarter. LaVine drilled a 3-pointer at the 3:57 mark to put them ahead for good at 63-61. A Matt Thomas 3-pointer later upped the margin to nine before Gordon beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to cut Chicago’s lead to 77-71.