The Denver Nuggets will put their seven-game winning streak on the line Thursday night when they welcome the Chicago Bulls to the Pepsi Center.
Denver, which hasn't lost since an ugly home setback to the Washington Wizards on Jan. 18, is averaging 113.1 ppg over this impressive run and now ranks third in the NBA in scoring.
The Bulls are third in the league in opponents' scoring, allowing just over 91.0 ppg.
"Right now, our team is kind of getting into a rhythm, being serious about the challenge we have," coach George Karl said. "We could have lost a couple, but we've had an urgency in the fourth quarter to win those games. I think you're seeing a little bit of maturity in our basketball team.
"I've always liked this team and we are progressing in a good way. We've got a tough game against Chicago. I don't think we can be cool or cocky. I don't think that's going to help us win anything."
This will conclude a very favorable portion of the Nuggets' schedule. Thursday's contest ends a six-game homestand and a stretch of 15 of their last 18 in Denver.
Since the calendar turned to 2013, the Nuggets are 14-3 and moved from seventh in the west, to fourth.
"We feel like we can play better, actually," Denver forward Corey Brewer said.
In Denver's most recent victory, a 112-104 decision over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Brewer all scored over 20 points. Kenneth Faried had 13 points and 10 rebounds, but all nine Nuggets who played, scored six points or more.
Things won't be that easy against a Bulls team that has allowed four 100-plus scoring nights since Jan. 1. One of those occurred their last time out, a 111-101 setback on Monday to the Indiana Pacers.
Monday's game was the make-up from the snowed-out day after Christmas matchup, but the Bulls fell immediately when the Pacers opened a 13-2 advantage.
"We started off in a big hole," remarked Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "We had to get out and were scrambling from there. We were trying to give ourselves a chance. I thought we were in position with five minutes to go. I liked the way we fought back. It was very winnable."
One glimmer of light in the Pacers' lost, which cost the Bulls first place in the Central Division, was the return of power forward Carlos Boozer. The Duke product, who is third in the Eastern Conference in double-doubles, missed three games with a hamstring injury. He scored 10 points against Indiana in just over 23 minutes.
Seven Bulls scored in double figures, led by 24 from Marco Belinelli.
This is the fourth of a five-game road swing for Chicago. The Bulls are 1-2 thus far on the excursion.
The Nuggets have won four of the last five meetings between the teams and the Bulls haven't won in Denver since Feb. 8, 2006.