Nuggets bring hot streak to United Center
The Miami Heat's pursuit of the legendary 33-game winning streak by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers has generated plenty of attention.
Meanwhile, slipping in behind the Heat's 22-game streak and into the United Center on Monday are the Denver Nuggets, winners of 11 games in a row.
"It's a very good team, lot of offensive firepower, very well coached," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "They're just talented at every position. It's going to take a good effort for us to win."
The Nuggets are 30-3 at home in the high altitude of Denver but also have won four road games during this streak. Depth is a trademark, with six players averaging in double figures and no all-stars.
"That (Miami streak) gets all the attention, but there's a lot of other teams that are playing well, too," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Sunday at the Berto Center. "That's why it's so important to be ready for everybody.
"Everybody in this league is capable of beating you, and I think readiness to play is huge. Improve today and be ready to Denver tomorrow — that's what's important."
The Bulls had an interesting trip to California last week. After losing to the Lakers, they were bombarded by a humbling 42-point loss at Sacramento. Two days later they turned the tables and blew out Golden State.
Naturally, the Warriors bounced back themselves Sunday, beating Houston on the road by 30 points.
"We're capable of winning any game if we do the right things," Thibodeau added. "That starts with our preparation and putting work in and knowing our opponent well and putting maximum effort into each and every day.
"If you do that, and you have great concentration, you're intensity level will be high."
No new injury news:
Both Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson stayed on the floor after Sunday's practice. Gibson, wearing a tight brace on his sprained left knee, shot baskets with a medicine ball, then drained a series of medium-range jumpers.
Hinrich shot around and showed no visible signs of being bothered by a sore right foot.
Gibson has missed the past nine games. Hinrich sat out the last six contests with the foot problem and missed 16 of the last 20 games overall, including a right-elbow infection. Both were listed as day to day by coach Tom Thibodeau.
Richard Hamilton, meanwhile, seems to be out of sight and out of mind with a sore lower back.
There was nothing new on Derrick Rose, either. His return from ACL surgery seems imminent, but there is no way of knowing when it will happen, and there's still a chance he won't be back this season.
"He keeps improving. He still has a ways to go," Thibodeau said. "When he's ready, he's ready. He's got to keep working, that's all."
Teammate Joakim Noah talked briefly about Rose's presence at Sunday's practice.
"He's working hard, man. It feels good to see him," Noah said. "He's doing all the right things. It's good to see that."
Silver lining to ugly loss:
Joakim Noah, on whether the 42-point loss in Sacramento last Wednesday helped the Bulls refocus.
"It did for the Golden State game, that's for sure," he said. "We had a good practice today. Guys competed, played hard. We're playing against an even better team in Denver, so we have to be ready."
The Bulls have 17 games left in the regular season, and a top-four seed in the East still is within reach.
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