Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah, left, loses control of ball in front of Denver Nuggets' Kenneth Faried during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Monday, March 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)
Ty Lawson tied a season high with 27 points, Arron Afflalo added 22 and the Denver Nuggets shot 50 percent Monday night to beat the Chicago Bulls 108-91.
Denver, playing its third game in four nights as part of a seven-game road swing, got its first win three games into the trip. Al Harrington added 17 points and Andre Miller chipped in with 12 points and 10 assists for the Nuggets, who are scrapping for a playoff spot in the West.
C.J. Watson scored 17 points and John Lucas III, Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver added 14 points each for the Bulls. Chicago star Derrick Rose sat out his seventh straight game with a groin injury and the Bulls seemed to be out of sync most of the night, especially on defense.
Chicago leads the NBA with 40 wins and has already clinched a playoff spot. The Bulls are 12-5 without the reigning MVP.
Denver, tied with Oklahoma City as the league's highest scoring team entering play Monday, got the final six points of the second quarter and then started the third on a 10-0 run to take a 64-52 lead, one it would eventually build to 16 later in the quarter.
Behind Lawson's nine points, the Nuggets outscored the Bulls 27-16 in the period to go up 81-68. The Bulls went nearly five minutes before hitting their first second-half field goal and were just 5 of 16 in the pivotal third quarter.
The Bulls entered the game as the NBA's top rebounding team but were beaten on the boards 45-32 as Lawson had nine. And Chicago had 16 turnovers.
Afflalo, back after being suspended one game for throwing an elbow at Jazz forward Gordon Hayward's head on March 23, scored 11 first-quarter points. He had six of those and Harrington had a pair of 3-pointers in a 12-0 run. Chicago got the final six of the period for a two-point lead. Denver was up two at the half.