The shorthanded Bulls got off to a slow start, but were able to rebound (literally and figuratively) in the second half, handing the Knicks their sixth straight loss with a 104-99 victory.
New York took a 50-48 lead into the locker room at halftime, but were outworked, out-willed and out-hustled in the second half. Chicago didn’t shoot a great percentage (43% to New York’s 46%) but their big men pounded the offensive glass relentlessly, out-rebounding the Knicks 56-38.
Derrick Rose was his typical MVP-self, posting 32 points including a monster fourth quarter dunk that brought the Windy City faithful to their feet. Rose’s slam was made possible by Taj Gibson, who hauled in one of his 8 offensive rebounds earlier in the possession.
Gibson was a factor off the Bulls’ bench, scoring 15 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Another key contributor off the bench was rookie forward Jimmy Butler. Butler has struggled to get meaningful playing time this season but, with Luol Deng’s wrist injury, has seen a huge increase in minutes over the last two games. In 29 minutes, Butler scored 8 points but, more significantly, played lock-down defense on Carmelo Anthony down the stretch.
There was a huge buzz surrounding Jeremy Lin going into the game, as there usually is when he matches up with one of the NBA’s elite point guards. Lin was relatively quiet tonight, scoring 15 points and dishing out 8 assists.
Throughout the game, both teams displayed obvious displeasure with the officiating. Both Mike D’Antoni and Tom Thibodeau were assessed technical fouls, arguing two different calls during the second quarter.
Rose attempted just 9 free throws, appearing visibly frustrated throughout the game after drawing contact on the many of his 29 shot attempts. “I’ve got to be the only superstar who’s going through what I’m going through right now,” Rose told reporters after the game. “But I can’t say too much about it.”