The Denver Nuggets have revved up their already high-scoring attack to compile their longest winning streak in more than two years.
They'll try to win an eighth straight game and finish a 6-0 homestand Thursday night when they host the Chicago Bulls, who will likely be undermanned again as they deal with injuries.
The Nuggets (31-18) have won 13 of 15, including their first seven-game winning streak since Nov. 20-Dec. 5, 2010. They're averaging 104.2 points on the season, and an even more impressive 113.1 during the current streak.
They last won eight in a row in January 2010.
"As a team, I think we're one of the top four in the West," point guard Ty Lawson told the Nuggets' official website. "I guess right now we're proving it."
Denver has been one of the NBA's top home teams, going 21-3 and making especially good use of the Mile High City of late. Of the team's 13 wins since Jan. 5, 11 have come at home, where the Nuggets have won 11 of 12 against Chicago.
They beat Milwaukee 112-104 on Tuesday, rallying from a 15-point halftime deficit and overcoming a 35-point, 12-rebound effort by Bucks center Samuel Dalembert. The Nuggets outscored Milwaukee 33-18 in the fourth quarter, finally grabbing their first lead with 3:06 remaining.
Denver limited the Bucks to 38 points in the second half after allowing 66 in the first 24 minutes.
"We picked up our defense and that made us play better," said Danilo Gallinari, who matched Lawson with a team-high 22 points. "We didn't play really good defense in the first two quarters. We talked about our defense and said that we have to play our best defense to get back into the game."
The Nuggets lead the NBA with 19.3 fast-break points per game, and they're averaging 26.4 over the last seven games. Denver had 33 against Milwaukee, the third time in five games it has topped 30.
The Bulls (29-19) have split their last six contests as they try to weather the effects of recent injuries. They lost 111-101 at Indiana on Monday as Kirk Hinrich (elbow) and Joakim Noah (foot) were both out for the third straight game.
Carlos Boozer returned after missing three games with a sore hamstring, but only chipped in 10 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes.
Chicago's normally stout defense - holding teams to 42.8 percent shooting - let Indiana shoot 52.7 percent from the field. It was the second weak defensive showing in the Bulls' last three games, as they allowed 52.0 percent shooting by the Nets in a 93-89 loss at Brooklyn on Friday.
"I feel like we're short-handed right now, but we're competing hard and that's all you can ask for and I feel like our best basketball is yet to come," Noah said. "We've just got to keep fighting and I think we'll be all right."
Luol Deng has been taking on a heavier shooting load, putting up at least 18 attempts in each of the last four games, but he has hit just 34.7 percent in that stretch.
He's averaging 19.2 points over his last six games against the Nuggets, though he was held to nine in a 108-91 home loss to Denver last March. Lawson scored a game-high 27 points.
The Bulls, 14-8 away from home, are trying to avoid their first back-to-back road losses since November.
The Associated Press News Service
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