KNICKS 100 BULLS 99 OT | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
Early in Sunday’s contest, the Knicks looked flawless by racing out to a 27-6 lead over the Bulls while Carmelo Anthony poured in 12 points in the first quarter. New York shot 58.3 percent from the floor and held Derrick Rose to just two points on two free throws in what seemed like an easy victory for the home squad.
The reigning MVP would regain form in the third quarter as Chicago quickly erased its deficit with a 9-5 run over the first 4 minutes of the period. Iman Shumpert launched for a tremendous putback dunk at the 7:14 mark and J.R. Smith connected on a 3-pointer a minute later to help New York maintain the advantage but the Bulls were gearing up for a major comeback.
Taj Gibson hit a layup to tie the game at 71-71 with 1:40 left in the third and Chicago ripped the momentum away from the Knicks behind a 16-7 run to close the quarter and 75-72 advantage. Rose was determined to not let the game get out of hand in his first time back on the floor after missing his last eight contests due to a groin injury. In the third period, Rose dropped 14 points on 4-for-8 shooting from the floor and 3-of-5 behind the arc. Meanwhile, Anthony cooled off, considering he registered 22 first half points.
Facing a 10-point deficit with 4:01 remaining in the game, Smith drilled a long bomb, followed by two big buckets by Anthony. The 7-0 spurt by New York cut the Bulls lead to just three points, setting up the first clutch jumper from the Knicks Alll-Star. First, Anthony found Steve Novak for a wide open 3-pointer but the ball rimmed in-and-out with 28.6 seconds on the game clock. Luol Deng missed two free throws on the previous Chicago possession and then Rose failed at the charity stripe twice after Novak’s shot from downtown did not fall through the hoop. Anthony received the rock and sized up Gibson for a pull-up trey to tie the game at 91-91 with 10 seconds left in regulation.
Chicago seized some breathing room to start the overtime session before Anthony delivered a difficult layup in the paint past Gibson and Carlos Boozer. The shot trimmed the Bulls lead to just 99-97.
As the game clock read 12 seconds, Anthony found the same exact spot where he hit the 3-pointer to send the game to overtime and waltzed Gibson to sleep before another epic shot. Anthony’s successful 3-ball placed New York ahead of Chicago 100-99 with just 8.2 seconds left in the contest.
The Garden was absolutely on fire from Anthony’s theatrics but the Bulls had plenty of time to steal the win. Rose grabbed the ball with less than three seconds on the game clock and the Knicks switched defenders. Fields shaded Rose far left of the court and Tyson Chandler challenged a difficult floater near the baseline that eventually hit back iron.
In the exhilarating 100-99 New York victory, the squad moves back to a game up on Milwaukee for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race and it improved to 29-27 on the season.
“It was a great atmosphere. That’s how the Garden is supposed to be. This was a playoff type game. We might play these guys in the playoffs if we keep going and getting that seed. So, this was a big statement game for us – a big win today.” – Carmelo Anthony
Anthony was the hero of today’s matinee at MSG. He tied the game in regulation, drilled the game-winner, and scored a season-high 43 points in 46 minutes of action. The incredible performance featured a 16-for-31 shooting clip from the floor, an amazing 4-of-5 behind the arc, and seven boards. Once again, Anthony played the power forward position and faced several different defenders including Boozer, Gibson and Deng. The prolific scorer has certainly elevated his game without Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin in the lineup and might have handed the Knicks their biggest win of the season on Sunday.
From a defensive perspective, Chandler was invaluable in the matchup against the Bulls. 10 of his 16 boards were on the offensive glass and he also swatted away three shots. The big man shook off an early injury to his elbow and set the physical tone for New York throughout the game.
Shumpert played the second most minutes for the Knicks and defended Rose extremely well down the stretch. His overall statistics were note worthy with 15 points, nine boards, and six assists in the win. If the two teams square off in the playoffs, Shumpert’s suffocating defense on Rose will be absolutely critical.
New York held Chicago to 35-89 shooting (.393). The Knicks improve to 14-2 when they hold their opponents to under .400 shooting.
The Knicks will not practice on Monday as they travel to Chicago in the afternoon. On Tuesday night, both teams lock horns again in what figures to be another memorable battle.