BULLS 98 KNICKS 86 | UNITED CENTER
How it happened:
Just before tipoff, Derrick Rose was ruled inactive for the rematch due to a sore ankle. The reigning MVP missed 12 games prior to his return on Sunday and failed to take the court after participating in pregame warm-ups. C.J. Watson started at the point guard spot in place of Rose for the final game between the two teams in the regular season.
In a stark contrast to Sunday’s contest in New York, the Bulls were aggressive early by building an 8-0 lead in the first 4 minutes of the game. Trailing 10-2, Carmelo Anthony started to go to work while Chicago's head coach Tom Thibodeau made an adjustment from the previous matchup against the Knicks. Thibodeau placed Luol Deng on Anthony and shifted Carlos Boozer to Tyson Chandler. This obviously left the 7-footer Joakim Noah on the quicker Landry Fields. The defensive maneuver did not seem to effect Anthony as he ripped off 11 of his 14 first half points in the first quarter. Meanwhile, New York utilized an 18-7 run to snag a 25-22 lead at the end of the period.
The second quarter was a different story for the Knicks. Points were hard to find and New York could only muster 10 points in the period. For Chicago, John Lucas had quite an impact at the point guard spot. Lucas posted seven points off the bench and helped the Bulls rally to a 47-35 lead behind 52.6 percent shooting in that 12-minute time span.
Out of the locker room, New York regained its composure with a 15-6 run and only trailed 53-50 at the 8:25 mark of the third period. Richard Hamilton however put a screeching halt to the sudden momentum. With the shot clock winding down, Hamilton buried a 20-footer and paced Chicago with 18 points in the third quarter and provided his squad with a 10-point lead.
The Knicks could not find the offensive firepower down the stretch to mount a comeback. Looking for offensive contributors, New York only received a combined 18 points from the bench and J.R. Smith scored 14 of those points in 35 minutes. Chicago’s 98-86 win clinched the season series while the Knicks dropped to 29-28 on the season.
Averaging 33 points per game in April, Anthony continued to flourish on the offensive side of the floor on Tuesday night. New York’s All-Star scored 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the floor and 6-of-9 at the charity stripe. In 39 minutes of action, Anthony also dished out five assists.
As seen in this specific series, rebounding played a major part in the outcome. The Bulls outrebounded the Knicks 51-33 and scored 25 second chance points.
Highlight To Remember:
As the Knicks were putting together their best offensive run of the game, Iman Shumpert sent an alley-oop to Baron Davis, who then hit Anthony with a touch pass for the easy bucket.
State of the Playoffs:
The Celtics and Sixers won tonight, which places New York in the No. 8 spot as of Tuesday night. If the postseason started on Tuesday, the Knicks would meet Chicago in the first round. Milwaukee now trails New York by just one game heading into Wednesday’s highly anticipated matchup.
The Knicks jumped on a bus directly after the game for a quick jaunt to Milwaukee. On Wednesday night, New York will square off against the Bucks in a pivotal matchup for playoff positioning.