Game Breakdown: Chicago Bulls Suffer Blowout Loss – Key Insights on Caruso’s Injury and 3rd-Quarter Struggles

The Chicago Bulls couldn’t fend off a second-half scoring flurry from the reigning champions Saturday, getting blown out 123-101 by the Denver Nuggets.

The Bulls have lost three straight and are 2-5 to start the season.

Here are six takeaways from Saturday’s loss.

1. Scoring and assists were well-balanced in the first half.

The first half was a template for how the Bulls can create offensive success.

They took only eight 2-pointers from outside the paint — six by midrange specialist DeMar DeRozan — and every player scored at least one basket. Only three makes in the half were unassisted.

They shot a lower volume of 3-pointers but went 6-for-16 behind the arc with improved accuracy. And despite missing seven shots at the rim, the Bulls led 53-51 heading into the locker room.

2. The Bulls had a third-quarter implosion.

The Nuggets opened the second half on a 24-4 run. DeRozan supplied the Bulls’ only baskets to break up the scoring frenzy, which was fueled by second-chance opportunities and slashing layups.

The disparity between the teams in the quarter was stark. The Nuggets shot 3-for-8 from 3-point range while the Bulls went 0-for-4. Denver went 10-for-12 from the free-throw line, while the Bulls took only three free throws.

The Bulls managed to cut the deficit to 10 by the end of the quarter, but the damage was already done.

3. Alex Caruso was sidelined after an apparent arm injury.

Caruso started Saturday’s game with his typical reckless abandon — but a breakaway dunk in the second quarter might have caused his first injury concern of the season.

Torrey Craig snagged a steal, then slung a pass ahead to Caruso, who had leaked out toward the opposing basket. The Nuggets’ Aaron Gordon attempted to track down the ensuing shot for a block but instead collided with the smaller guard midair when Caruso threw down a dunk.

Caruso crashed to the ground, attempting to brace himself with his right arm — a familiar sight that brought back the memory of the collision with Grayson Allen in 2022 that resulted in a fractured right wrist. Despite visibly wincing after the play, Caruso stayed in the game for another minute, displaying discomfort when he attempted a block two plays later.

Caruso wore a heat pack on his right arm on the bench in the second half. He played four minutes in the second half — logging one shot and one turnover — before he was pulled.

Injuries have been the main hindrance to Caruso’s career, sidelining him for half of his first season in Chicago. This will be a major concern if the Bulls are forced to play any sizable amount of time without their defensive cornerstone.

4. The Bulls played solid defense on Nikola Jokić — to start.

The Bulls have often guarded the Nuggets star well, and that trend seemed to continue in the first half. Jokić managed only 11 points and three assists — relatively low numbers for a player averaging more than 27 points this season.

But that didn’t last long. Jokić tallied 13 points and three assists in the third quarter to fuel the Nuggets as they overwhelmed the Bulls, and he finished with 28 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.

5. Jevon Carter brought an offensive spark off the bench.

After logging his first double-digit performance in a Bulls jersey Wednesday, Carter continued his hot shooting in Denver.

Carter went 4-for-5 from 3-point range and supplied 16 points off the bench. The rest of the Bulls went 3-for-21 from 3-point range in a low-volume, lackluster shooting night.

6. Patrick Williams continues to struggle with 3-point shooting.

After being pulled from the starting lineup Friday, Williams provided a slightly more consistent performance in the second rotation.

He earned his second trip to the free-throw line of the season in the second quarter, making both shots. And in the second half, Williams scored back-to-back baskets off decisive moves to the rim, including a thunderous dunk off a cut.

But Williams still can’t find his shot.

He finished 0-for-5 from 3-point range, his fourth game of the season without a make behind the arc. Williams is 4-for-24 (16.7%) from 3-point range through seven games.

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