(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls received some reinforcements and won last time out, so they'll try and keep the momentum going Tuesday night when they visit the Pepsi Center to battle the Denver Nuggets.
Against the Utah Jazz on Monday, former MVP Derrick Rose returned after a four-game absence with a strained left hamstring. Perennial All-Star Pau Gasol came back after sitting the last three with a strained left calf.
The two made an impact immediately.
Rose scored 18 points, while Gasol totaled 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in Chicago's 97-95 victory. Rose and Gasol combined for 18 points in a strong first quarter for Chicago, which opened the game on a 9-0 run and led 30-14 after 12 minutes.
The Bulls, who led by as many as 21, escaped EnergySolutions Arena with a win when Gordon Hayward missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer. It halted a two-game losing streak during this seven-game circus road odyssey. The Bulls are 2-2 thus far and still have stops in Boston and Brooklyn before the circus leaves town.
Jimmy Butler scored 25 points to lead the Bulls. Nikola Mirotic and Aaron Brooks both scored 10 points off the bench.
"I thought we were loose in the second half. Found a way to win in the end," said Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The Bulls are still without Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson.
The Nuggets have been sensational of late, winning four straight. They have inched closer to the .500 mark and haven't lost since a Sunday afternoon setback at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 16.
Denver survived an overtime battle with the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night at Staples Center. The Nuggets left Hollywood with a 101-94 victory and have scored 100-plus points in all four games during this winning streak.
"Defense won this game," said Denver point guard Ty Lawson. "We kept the streak going. This win was good for the organization."
Lawson totaled 18 points and a season-high 16 assists to lead the Nuggets. Wilson Chandler paced Denver with 19 points, while Timofey Mozgov finished with 13 points and 13 boards.
Arron Afflalo added 15 points and Danilo Gallinari provided a huge four-point possession in overtime to score 10 off the bench.
The Nuggets have a big home-and-home with the Phoenix Suns, starting Wednesday in Phoenix.
Chicago and Denver split a pair of meetings last season, each winning on its home floor, but the Nuggets are 8-3 in their last 11 against the Bulls. Chicago has lost seven in a row and 13 of its last 14 in the Mile High City.