CHICAGO – Nikola Jokic was ejected in the second quarter. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was held up in the second half after a collision with Nikola Vucevic. Jamal Murray didn't play at all.
The rest of the Denver Nuggets made up for it.
Reggie Jackson scored 25 points and shorthanded Denver held off the Chicago Bulls for a 114-106 NBA victory on Tuesday night.
“We have the expectation of winning the game no matter who is playing,” said coach Michael Malone.
Michael Porter Jr. had 17 points and Aaron Gordon finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists, helping Denver to a second straight win after a 129-122 win at Atlanta on Monday night. Julian Strawther added 16 points.
Jackson made five 3-pointers as the defending NBA champions shot 14 for 30 from behind the arc. The Nuggets also beat the Bulls 123-101 in Denver on November 4th.
“The defense was where it needed to be and the guys executed,” Jokic said. “We had some guys in a different position today. … It’s a good win for us.”
Jokic was ejected for language he directed at a referee after he felt he was fouled by missing a reverse layup with 1:12 left in the first half. The two-time NBA MVP said something in the direction of a referee as he walked back onto the court.
Jokic was promptly whistled for a technical and sent off by official Mousa Dagher.
“I crossed the line, but sometimes that word doesn’t cross the line,” Jokic said.
Jokic declined to go into further detail because he wanted to avoid a fine from the NBA. Mark Lindsay, head of the officiating team, was also vague when asked about the switch.
“We don’t normally say publicly exactly what a player said, but the language met the standard for an ejection,” Lindsay told a pool reporter.
Coby White led Chicago with 27 points, continuing their winning streak. Vucevic finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds.
“It was right there. … In the second half, they took it to us and from then on it was difficult to get back into the game,” Vucevic said.
The Bulls were coming off a 133-129 overtime loss at Milwaukee on Monday night that snapped a four-game winning streak.
White was 8-for-15 from the floor, including a 5-for-10 performance from 3-point range. He is averaging 26.8 points over the last five games.
Chicago scored five points on Ayo Dosunmu's jumper with 1:47 left in the third quarter, but Strawther hit a 3-pointer and two foul shots to help Denver take a 92-80 lead into the final period.
The Nuggets maintained control throughout the quarter. Gordon's 3 made it 109-96 with 3:20 left.
“It seemed like when Jokic came out everything was fine, they all came out confident,” White said.
Already playing without Zach LaVine due to right foot inflammation, the Bulls rested Alex Caruso for the second straight game because of a sprained left ankle. But coach Billy Donovan made it seem like Caruso could return soon.
“The fact that he's getting on the court to try to get ready to play, I think it indicates that he's very close to returning,” Donovan said. “That’s how much he feels he can do.”
The Nuggets played without Murray, who had 29 points and nine rebounds in Monday night's win. Murray is dealing with sore right ankle and sprained his left ankle in the first quarter against the Hawks.
NEXT SCHEDULE FOR NUGGETS, BULLS
Nuggets: Open a three-game homestand Thursday night against Brooklyn.
Bulls: At Miami on Thursday night and Saturday night.