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Bulls play dead in Denver in fourth quarter

Unlike Tom Petty, the Bulls will back down – at least they did Saturday in Denver.

Losing to the Nuggets in the Pepsi Center is noting to be ashamed of. It’s one of the toughest arenas in the NBA, and the Nuggets are a tough matchup with their size and athleticism.

But what is disturbing about the Bulls’ 112-93 loss Saturday night was the ease in which they gave in once the Nuggets asserted themselves.

“You have to continue to bring the effort, energy and professionalism, and I didn’t think we did that in the second half,” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. “That’s what is most disappointing.

I didn’t like our intensity or effort. Our rotations were slow. Once they got on a little bit of a roll, we had no answer for them offensively. Our ball movement wasn’t nearly as good the second half. They picked their defense up and we let their pressure bother us.”

Amazingly, the Bulls controlled this game for much of the first half and led by as many as 14 points. Like any good team playing at home, the Nuggets made a run – like all good teams do – and the Bulls wilted under the pressure.

“Embarrassing,” Derrick Rose said. “We can’t give up. We have to run back, play defense. I’m not calling anybody out; we were all out there. Towards the end we were acting lackadaisical out there.”