(MCT) — DENVER — Joakim Noah returned Thursday night against the Nuggets after missing three games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot while Marco Belinelli sat out because of the right ankle he rolled during Monday’s loss.
The Bulls’ heart and soul remains confident this experience won’t be as dramatic as when he missed 18 games with the condition in his left foot in 2009-10.
“I’ll be all right,” Noah said.
Noah’s game wasn’t, and neither was the Bulls’ defense.
The Bulls surrendered the most points in Tom Thibodeau’s tenure and also posted their largest margin of defeat in that time, getting buried, 128-96, in a barrage of Nuggets’ fast-break dunks. The previous highs were the 120 points the Rockets posted this season on Christmas and a 29-point loss.
The Nuggets scored eight points off 15 Bulls’ turnovers, throwing down 15 dunks overall and finishing with 64 points in the paint. Kenneth Faried’s 21 points and 12 rebounds and Wilson Chandler’s 24 points, which featured 5 of 5 shooting on 3-pointers, powered the Nuggets to their seventh straight home victory and 12th in 13 tries.
“People say he’s an energy, effort type player, almost like they’re belittling that,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of Faried. “To me, that’s a special talent. He’s a multiple effort guy who never takes a possession off. Guys like that give your team a lot of toughness.”
The Bulls exhibited little toughness, allowing an opponent-season-high for points in the first half for the second straight game. The Nuggets scored 63 points after the Pacers posted 60 at halftime Monday. The Nuggets even reached 100 points before the end of the third quarter.
Noah finished with just two points and five rebounds in 23 minutes. Daequan Cook’s 19 points led the Bulls, mostly in garbage time. The Bulls also were without Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose, obviously.