BULLS 105 KNICKS 102 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
Thursday night’s Eastern Conference battle lived up to the hype in front of a nationally televised audience. After falling behind by 11 points, the Knicks clawed back into the game at halftime due in large part to a monster 34-point performance from Amar’e Stoudemire. Despite a tough fight, the hometown team eventually fell 105-102 at Madison Square Garden.
Stoudemire was able to cut the Chicago lead to just three points with 2:06 remaining as both teams exchanged buckets down the stretch. On the other side, Derrick Rose found Jimmy Butler for one of his 13 assists in the game to extend the Chicago advantage to five points. Stoudemire dished to Landry Fields for a quick bucket and the Knicks only trailed 101-100 with 13.7 seconds left on the game clock. However, that’s as close as New York would come to reaching the East’s top team in their first meeting of the season.
Rose was MVP-like with 32 points in 40 minutes after a sub-par performance in Philadelphia the previous night. For New York, Anthony posted 26 points on 10-for-26 shooting just hours after the league announced he will start for the Eastern Conference in the 2012 All-Star game.
In his best outing of the season, Stoudemire was a beast both inside the paint and on the perimeter. The Knicks power forward was efficient from the floor, hitting 16-of-27 attempts while grabbing 11 boards in 41 minutes of action. The season-high 34 points should give him some momentum heading into the matchup against Boston on Friday night.
Iman Shumpert had a tough assignment in defending another Chicago native. The rookie fought Rose all night but the Bulls point guard was simply brilliant. Shumpert finished with a team-high eight assists and 10 points in the defeat.
After completing the first game in the three-games-in-three nights set, New York jumped on a plane to Boston for another pivotal Eastern Conference rival. The Knicks and Celtics will meet for a second time this season after a thrilling New York win on Christmas Day.