The fight and final score were decisively better than the 32-point loss they suffered in the first matchup against the Denver Nuggets.
However, the end result and precision in which they were picked apart in Denver played a role in the Bulls' undoing Monday, as the Nuggets outlasted them, 119-118, in overtime.
The final minute of the extra frame featured three reviews by the officials, the last of which went against the home team in a controversial finish.
Andre Iguodala’s 3-pointer with 7 seconds remaining proved to be the game-winner as a Joakim Noah tip-in off an air-ball by Marco Belinelli was ruled offensive interference.
With the win, the Nuggets tied their franchise record with 12 straight victories.
The Bulls were out-rebounded (53-42), outscored in the paint (68-50), and outran (30-8 edge in fast break points), and the Nuggets also got 71 points from their reserves.
Nate Robinson finished with a team-high 34 points. Luol Deng added 21 and Belinelli scored 18.
Despite coming into the game, once again, without the services of Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson and Richard Hamilton, the Bulls were hoping to carry the momentum over from Friday’s win in Golden State.
“You know you’re going to be challenged and we’re shorthanded,” Thibodeau said before the game. “You still have to have the mental toughness to get through whatever adversity you’re facing. So we have to keep scrapping. We have to grind. You don’t want to skip any steps, you want to keep fighting and that’s what we have to do. When we do that, we have a good chance [to win].
“You’re at the point of the season now where you’re headed down the stretch. You have to shore things up. You want to be playing your best down the stretch. You want to be building the right habits, but we don’t want to change what our objective was right from the beginning, which is to improve each and every day. In order to do that, you have to concentrate and you have to put everything you have into each and every day."
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Despite being outplayed through regulation, the Bulls took a 117-116 lead with 32 seconds remaining in overtime off a tip-in by Joakim Noah. He would follow that with a block on the other end and Robinson would split a pair at the line.
Igoudala’s 3-pointer gave the Nuggets the lead back.
After a timeout, Belinelli drove left and threw up a prayer that Noah tipped in with just 1 second remaining, but after officials reviewed the play, the goaltend that was called initially was confirmed, and the Bulls' fate was sealed.
Wilson Chandler led Denver with 35 points.