The Denver Nuggets survived a scare to keep their winning streak intact, but the 12-game run could be in jeopardy Tuesday in a showdown with the Northwest Division-rival Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Nuggets opened a quick two-game trip in Chicago on Monday and handed the Bulls a 119-118 overtime setback for their fifth straight win on the road. Bulls center Joakim Noah appeared to give the hosts a lead late in overtime until his basket was negated for offensive basket interference by the officiating crew. Marco Belinelli's shot from the left baseline was tipped in by Noah and the Nuggets called a timeout. It was then the call was reversed.
Not known for his 3-point prowess from his days as a Sixer, Andre Iguodala gave the Nuggets the lead on a shot from downtown with 7.1 seconds to go.
Wilson Chandler led the Nuggets with a career-high 35 points off the bench and Corey Brewer netted 16 points. Ty Lawson ended with 13 points and Iguodala stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks for the Nuggets, whose winning streak is the longest since a franchise-best 15-game run as a member of the ABA in the 1969-70 campaign.
"Nine (wins) in a row in January and now with 12. We know we can win and play anyone," Denver coach George Karl said.
JaVale McGee and Danilo Gallinari scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, in a winning effort. The Nuggets, who own a 22-4 mark in the last 26 games, are 16-19 away from home and even with the Memphis Grizzlies for the fourth spot in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Clippers are just one-half game ahead of Memphis and Denver for the third spot.
Denver's bench outscored the starters by a 71-48 margin. The Nuggets haven't tasted defeat since Feb. 22 at Washington and their current winning streak has taken a backseat to Miami's ridiculous 23-game run.
Following their visit to the OKC in the tail end of another back-to-back, the Nuggets will return to the Rockies for two games versus Philadelphia and Sacramento. Tuesday's game could be a tough one for Denver, which is 24th in defense (101.0 ppg). The Nuggets are third in scoring (106.0 ppg), but the Thunder are first with 106.7 ppg.
The Thunder have won three straight and 11 of their last 13 games, including Sunday's 107-101 victory at Dallas. Thabo Sefolosha put Oklahoma City ahead for good on a jump shot with 12 seconds remaining and had just four points.
"Every time we play Dallas, it seems that we should start the game with a two- minute game at 0-0," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "That's what it seems to come down to every game. It comes down to the last two or three minutes of the game. I like the way we competed and we showed a competitive spirit throughout the game. We had a run, they had a run, we had a run -- it kept going back and forth and neither team gave up."
Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 35 points and NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant (28.3 ppg) contributed 31 points and nine rebounds. Serge Ibaka recorded a double-double with 18 points and 16 rebounds for the Thunder, who have won six in a row over the Mavericks.
Oklahoma City survived despite going 5-of-21 from 3-point range and committing 16 turnovers for 24 Dallas points.
Now the Thunder are back home, where they own a 30-4 mark and have won seven straight. They are 21-1 against the West at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder are still alive for the NBA's best record and sit one game behind the idle San Antonio Spurs for the West's top seed. Oklahoma City will return to the road after Tuesday's game to visit Memphis and Orlando.
Oklahoma City has lost two of the first three matchups with Denver this season and the last two meetings have taken place in the Rocky Mountains. The Nuggets have dropped four of five as the visitor in this series.