DENVER (AP) – Once Nate Robinson stopped worrying about missing shots, he started making them, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
Robinson and Jordan Hamilton each hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter, helping the Denver Nuggets pull away for a 97-87 victory against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.
“I’ve been battling little injuries, and been in a little slump, not wanting to take the shots I usually take just because I didn’t want to miss them and hurt my team,” said Robinson, who scored 10 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.
“But I got to the stage where I’m like, `Forget it. Just play and be you,'” he said. “I’m no longer going to worry about missing shots. I’m just going to shoot when I’m open and play aggressive, get my teammates involved and play as hard as I can for as long as I can and enjoy the minutes that I get.”
Hamilton finished with 17 points to lead the Nuggets, who won their seventh straight against the Bulls at the Pepsi Center. J.J. Hickson had 14 points, Kenneth Faried had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Randy Foye also scored 12 points.
Derrick Rose had 19 points for the Bulls, who snapped a five-game winning streak.
Robinson, who spent last season with the Bulls, started a 12-0 burst when he hit successive 3s opening the final period. Hamilton matched him by making 3s on consecutive possessions, and the Nuggets’ lead ballooned to 82-62 with 9:40 left.
“He’s a sparkplug, man,” teammate Ty Lawson said. “Nate is never down and out, so if he misses through three quarters, he’s going to come through in the fourth quarter. That’s what he did for us.”
Chicago managed to pull to 94-83, but Robinson responded by hitting a 12-foot bank shot to help quash the Bulls’ late momentum.
“You can’t let your guard down against them,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought their bench hurt us. Hamilton had a big game for them, Nate had the two big shots to start the fourth, (Timofey) Mozgov hurt us in the paint. Lawson puts a lot of pressure on you, and (Wilson) Chandler puts a lot of pressure on you. You’ve got to use your team to slow them down.
“Our turnovers hurt us,” Thibodeau added, “but the big thing is we gave them easy scoring opportunities. We should have been able to count on our defense. Ninety-seven points, 46 percent (shooting), it’s too much.”
Darrell Arthur hit a baseline jumper to give the Nuggets a 69-60 lead with 1:09 left in the third, matching their biggest lead of the night. Denver was in front 70-62 going into the final period.
The Bulls outscored the Nuggets 8-2 in the last two minutes of the second quarter, pulling to 50-48 at halftime. Chicago hit the offensive boards in the surge, getting tip-ins from Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noahduring the sequence.
NOTES: Chicago’s Mike Dunleavy started at shooting guard in place of Jimmy Butler, who is week to week because of a toe injury. … Chicago’s Taj Gibson was ejected with 1:15 left after drawing his second technical foul. … Chicago hasn’t won in Denver since a 110-107 victory on Feb. 8, 2006. … Faried has 10 or more rebounds in five of his last six games.
By DENNIS GEORGATOS, Associated Press
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