DENVER – It’s been something that Billy Donovan has talked about a bit during his first season with the Bulls. The idea that the team often is it’s own worst enemy has been something on the head coach’s mind more than a few times over the past few months.
Certainly it’s been on Donovan’s thoughs over the past two games, when the opportunity to get a pair of victories disappeared due to late collapses.
On Wednesday, the Bulls were outscored by 20 in the fourth quarter by the Spurs as a double-digit Bulls lead evaporated. Friday was even worse, as the Bulls led by 14 points against the Nuggets in Denver with 8:03 to go after a three-pointer by Coby White.
Yet the Bulls once again couldn’t hold it, losing the lead with 2:51 to go on a three-pointer by Jamal Murray. Then the built a six-point lead but couldn’t hold it again, and Murray’s three-pointer before the end of regulation sent it to overtime.
There it was the Nuggets who pulled ahead for a 131-127 victory in one of the more painful losses of the 2020-2021 season. It drops the Bulls to 18-22 on the season as the opportunity to get to the .500 mark slipped away thanks to two late collapses.
A chance to get back on track comes when they visit the Pistons on Sunday night, hoping they can fix their issues in the fourth quarter. Outscored 74-46 combine in the last 12 minutes of their last two games has put a damper on what looked like two victorious efforts in the second half.
Murray along with Nikola Jokic each scored 34 points to help Denver pull of the rally that denied the Bulls their first win over the Nuggets on the road since 2006. Zach LaVine led the way for the Bulls with 32 while Otto Porter Jr. delievered a 22-point performance off the bench.
His three-pointer with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter gave the Bulls the lead back, with hoops by LaVine and White boosting the lead to six with 45 seconds left. Jokic hit a three-pointer with 37 seconds left and a turnover by LaVine allowed Murray to get a hoop to cut the lead to one.
After he responded with a pair of free throws, Murray got open in the corner on the Nuggets’ final possession of regulation and hit the game-tying three-pointer. Denver opened the overtime on a 9-0 run and didn’t look back in handing the Bulls one of their more painful losses of the season.