For the second game in a row, the Denver Nuggets appeared sluggish, disinterested and passive. Unlike Monday’s shocking, come-from-behind win against the Raptors on Monday, however, the visiting Chicago Bulls weren’t willing to hand the game over to their hosts. Instead, the Bulls ran roughshod over the Nuggets in a 66-44 second half in which they did virtually everything they wanted to do at will.

With 66 points in the paint to the Nuggets’ 38, Chicago easily overcame a poor shooting night from three point range (8-for-24) to pull away from Denver and back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, who had a second-straight subpar performance, especially on the defensive end. Jokic, who finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists (and five turnovers) led the team with nine three-point attempts on the night, hitting only three of them on his way to a 7-for-16 shooting night; well below his standards. Jokic, who’s carried as heavy a load as anyone in the league, has certainly earned some grace for outings like tonight’s – especially given the Nuggets’ commanding, seven-game lead in the Western Conference standings – but as he goes, his team goes.

Not a single Nuggets starter shot either 50 percent or better from the field or had a positive plus-minus, and for the second game in a row, not a single starter had more than two fouls; a sign of the team’s lack of effort on the defensive side of the ball. “Just no defense,” head coach Michael Malone said after the game. “One game does not mean we are a bad team,” Jokic explained, “but I think we have weaknesses, just like other teams have weaknesses.” Nikola Vucevic, who has lobbied for Jokic to win his third consecutive MVP award, became the second center in two games to play brilliantly against him, scoring 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds. Zach Lavine scored 29 points of his own to lead the Bulls, DeMar DeRozan scored 17 on 6-of-16 shooting, and Patrick Williams was electric off the bench for Chicago, scoring 18 points on a scorching, 8-for-9 night from the field. Williams’ plus-23 led all players on Wednesday night.

Denver’s lack of effort extended to the offensive side of the ball as well, where Jamal Murray’s obvious desire to overtake Will Barton for the Nuggets’ all-time three-pointers made lead (he tied him at 804) seemed to compromise his usual, solid shot selection. Murray went 4-for-15 on the night, including 1-for-7 from three-point range.

Malone wasn’t concerned after the game. “I think Jamal, in seven years now, the fact that he’s about to become the all-time leading three-point record-holder speaks to his efficiency, accuracy, and ability as a shooter,” he said. “We all know that once Jamal sees one go in, he starts shooting into a very big basket.” Murray’s likely to break the record at home on Friday against the visiting San Antonio Spurs.

The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak at home, dropping the Nuggets’ record at Ball Arena to a still outstanding 30-5.

Bruce Bowen, who played far better (nine points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench) than his -24 suggested, put the loss in the simplest of terms after the game. “I think it was just one of those nights – and we haven’t had many of them.”