When the Bulls met the Knicks Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, they squandered a 10-point lead with 3:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Knicks clawed their way back to tie it in regulation, and win the game in overtime. Tonight, when the two teams met for a rematch at the United Center, there would be no comeback.
The Bulls took the lead early in the second quarter, and held on the rest of the way, cruising to a 98-86 victory.
Carmelo Anthony put up 43 points Sunday, including two clutch 3-pointers, one to tie the game late in the fourth quarter and another in overtime that put the Knicks ahead for good. Anthony had another big-time offensive performance tonight, going for a game-high 29 points, but it wasn’t enough. New York struggled to score anytime the ball wasn’t in Melo’s hands.
The high-scorer for the Bulls was Rip Hamilton, who scored 18 of his 20 points in the third quarter, and appeared energized in his fourth game since returning from a shoulder injury.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement,” Hamilton said after the game, which may have been a potential first-round playoff preview.
This type of contribution from Hamilton will have Bulls fans feeling confident that they can take their postseason run deep into the month of June. However, that confidence is entirely contingent on the health of the reigning MVP.
Tonight, the Bulls played without Derrick Rose for the 13th time in their last 14 games. Rose made his return to the lineup Sunday, but suffered a right ankle injury during the second quarter, forcing him to sit out tonight. He was seen wearing a walking boot Monday, but was without the boot today as he tested the ankle, running and shooting earlier in the day.
The Bulls have made it very clear they will risk nothing when it come’s to the long-term health of their superstar. Rose has missed 23 games this season.