Vucevic, LaVine lead Bulls to 117-96 win over Nuggets

DENVER (AP) — Nikola Vucevic had 25 points and 15 rebounds, Zach LaVine scored 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting and the Chicago Bulls gave their playoff hopes an unexpected boost with a 117-96 victory against the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

It was Vucevic’s 40th double-double of the season, the third-most in the NBA. LaVine is averaging 34.8 points in Chicago's last four games.

With the win, the Bulls moved within a game of the Washington Wizards for the final spot in the NBA’s play-in tournament, with 16 games remaining in the regular season. The victory was just the fourth in the past 13 games for Chicago.

Nikola Jokic led Denver with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Aaron Gordon added 17 points and nine rebounds. Jokic made only seven of his 16 shots, snapping a 51-game streak in which he shot at least 50% from the field.

Entering the night, Denver was an NBA-best 30-4 at home, which included wins in 24 of its last 25 games. The Nuggets, who lead the NBA in field goal and 3-point percentage, made only 42% of their shots. The 96 points were their second-fewest in a game this season.

Trailing by one at halftime, 52-51, the Bulls went on a 19-4 run in the third quarter to take a 79-66 lead, capped by Patrick Williams' 3-pointer with 3:22 remaining in the period.

Chicago's advantage grew to as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter.


Bulls: G DeMar DeRozan had 17 points and eight assists. ... The win was Chicago’s second in a row at Denver, the first time it has done so since the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.

Nuggets: G Jamal Murray made the 804th 3-pointer of his Nuggets career, tying Will Barton for the franchise record. ... F Vlatko Cancar missed his third consecutive game with a sprained right wrist. Cancar is averaging 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds off the bench for Denver this season. ... Nuggets coach Michael Malone remains one win shy of his 400th.


Bulls: At Houston on Saturday.

Nuggets: At San Antonio on Friday.

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Craig Meyer, The Associated Press