The Denver Nuggets are the hottest team in the NBA not named the Miami Heat, and with a 119-118 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, they are now within striking distance of the Los Angeles Clippers for the third playoff seed in the Western Conference.
After jumping out to a 53-45 lead at the half, Denver kept its foot on the gas in the third quarter, extending the lead to 11 with 5:26 remaining in the frame.
The Bulls pulled to within six points to close out the third period, though, and the fourth quarter proved to be a tighter contest than Denver would have liked.
With just over a minute to play, Marco Belinelli nailed a 22-foot jumper to bring the Bulls within one point of the lead. Andre Miller answered back 10 seconds later, extending Denver’s lead back to three, but a Nate Robinson three-pointer tied the score at 105-105 with 13 seconds to play.
With one last chance to pull ahead in regulation, Ty Lawson heaved up a potential game-winner that didn’t even draw rim. The game clock hit zero, and Denver’s opportunity to put away Chicago turned into an overtime struggle.
Both teams traded buckets in overtime, and with a two-point lead with just seven seconds remaining, it appeared the Bulls may have mounted a remarkable comeback at the United Center. Andre Iguodala delivered the dagger from 26 feet, though, and Denver escaped with a one-point victory on the road.
Wilson Chandler was masterful off the bench for the Nuggets, leading all scorers with 35 points. Robinson tallied 34 points for the Bulls, who also got big contributions from Luol Deng (21 points) and Belinelli (18 points).
Next Up for Denver
With a 12-game win streak in tow, the Nuggets travel to Oklahoma City for a huge showdown with the Thunder on Tuesday. Oklahoma City (50-17) is coming off a 107-101 win over Dallas on March 17, and remains one game back of San Antonio in the Western Conference playoff race.
Next Up for Chicago
With the loss, Chicago remains tied for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls host the Portland Trail Blazers (31-34) on Thursday night.