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Bulls-Nuggets Preview

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Though Derrick Rose is back for the Chicago Bulls, the last time he played on consecutive nights ended up being the last time he saw the floor in 2013-14.

It appears that Rose will be available Tuesday night to try to help the Bulls end a seven-game road slide to the surging Denver Nuggets.

Denver (6-7) last fell at home to Chicago in a 110-107 loss Feb. 8, 2006. Rose is averaging 20.7 points in his three visits, scoring 19 in a 97-87 loss Nov. 21, 2013.

The next night, Rose scored 20 in a 98-95 loss at Portland, though he suffered a right knee injury. The former league MVP did not play again last season.

Chicago (9-5) has been cautious with Rose, who returned from a four-game absence due to a hamstring injury and scored 18 points in 25 minutes in Monday’s 97-95 victory at Utah. The Bulls improved to 5-1 this season with Rose, who has missed eight games.

“He’s got to get out there and play, you know,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought he did a lot of good things. As you can see, he’s not real comfortable with the ball yet but that’ll come. When Derrick strings some games together, he’s going to take off. He’s got to go. That’s the bottom line.”

Rose wasn’t the only player the injury-plagued Bulls got back. Pau Gasol returned from a three-game absence because of a strained calf and finished with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Chicago remains without Kirk Hinrich, out with a chest contusion, and Taj Gibson, sidelined with a sprained left ankle.

The Bulls avoided a third straight loss and improved to 2-2 on this seven-game trip. Thibodeau said injuries haven’t given the starting five enough time together to work out all the kinks.

“There is a lot of rust,” Thibodeau said. “You can’t build chemistry unless they’re out there playing, practicing, working together.”

Jimmy Butler scored a team-high 25 points and remains Chicago’s leading scorer with 20.8 points per game.

Denver seeks a fifth straight win after using strong defensive efforts in two weekend victories. The Nuggets limited New Orleans to 39.7 percent shooting Friday in a 117-97 rout and held the Los Angeles Lakers to 37.1 percent in Sunday’s 101-94 overtime win.

“Although we didn’t start out the way we wanted to, we’re starting to get it now — especially on the defensive end,” coach Brian Shaw said. “The guys are buying in, we’re getting the results that we’re looking for, and it’s starting to be fun again.”

Shaw limited Monday’s practice time for Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo, who each logged a season-high 42 minutes Sunday. They combined for 33 points, with Lawson recording a season-high 16 assists.

Denver averages 26.5 foul shots and Chicago averages 25.7. The Bulls may have the edge in getting to the line Tuesday since the Nuggets commit an NBA-high 24.8 fouls per contest.

Bulls guard Aaron Brooks will play his first game against the team with which he played his final 29 games for last season after being traded by Houston to Denver on Feb. 20.

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