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Associated Press
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) shoots over Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, in Chicago.

Bulls ride fast start to 117-89 win over Nuggets

CHICAGO – D.J. Augustin had 22 points and eight assists, and the Chicago Bulls routed the Denver Nuggets 117-89 Friday night for their fifth consecutive victory.

Rookie Tony Snell added a career-high 20 points as the Bulls put seven players in double figures. Taj Gibson had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Joakim Noah finished with 14 points, 11 boards and five assists.

Randy Foye scored 23 points for Denver, which has lost six of seven. Aaron Brooks had 17 on 7-for-11 shooting in 28 minutes in his Nuggets debut, which also included a technical foul when he was involved in a tussle with Noah in the third.

Denver acquired Brooks and forward Jan Vesely in a pair of trades on Thursday. The 7-foot Vesely had five points and five rebounds in 16 minutes.

The Bulls shot 50 percent and outrebounded the Nuggets 50-40 while improving to 17-7 since Jan. 1. This one was never in doubt, with Chicago jumping to a 23-point halftime lead and putting it away with a 16-5 run at the end of the third quarter.

Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich had 10 points apiece for Chicago, which will go for a season-high sixth straight win Sunday at Miami.

Forced to play short-handed due to the trades and a slew of injuries, Denver used only eight players in Thursday night’s 101-90 victory at lowly Milwaukee. Brooks and Vesely were cleared in time to play against Chicago, but the Bulls jumped all over the weary Nuggets right at the start.

Chicago used runs of 13-2 and 8-0 to open a 32-12 lead on Jimmy Butler’s 3-pointer with 1 minute left in the first quarter. Brooks responded with seven straight points, but the Bulls led 32-19 after one.

In the continuation of an encouraging trend for Chicago, the Bulls have outscored their opponents by an average of 29.9 to 18.3 in the opening period over the last seven games, according to STATS.

The only issue for the Bulls from their latest fast start was the health of Butler, who bruised a rib late in the opening period. The team said his return was questionable, but he did not play again.

It was more of the same in the second. Snell had 10 points in the quarter on 4-for-5 shooting, helping the Bulls to a 69-46 lead at the break. It was a season-high point total for any half for Chicago and the most allowed by Denver in a half all season.

The Nuggets also lost Darrell Arthur to a strained left hip in the second, shelving the forward for the rest of the game. The team said he irritated a previous injury.

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