The New York Knicks fell to the Chicago Bulls by a final score of 93-85 in Chicago on Saturday night. Carmelo Anthony missed another game with an injured index finger.
The win extends Chicago's winning streak to three and spoils the five-game streak of the Knicks.
New York got to the free-throw line 28 times to the Bulls' 18 attempts.
Bulls point man Kirk Hinrich left with an injury after playing just 15 minutes and reserve Taj Gibson was ejected after receiving multiple technical fouls in the first half.
That didn't seem to hinder the Bulls, who kept things close and pulled away down the stretch.
Joakim Noah and the Derrick Rose-less Bulls led for much of the way, but they could never seem to create enough distance to put the red-hot Knicks away.
Chicago built a four-point lead with six minutes to play and never ended up surrendering the lead.
J.R. Smith then brought his team back, drilling a three-pointer with 2:37 left to play to close the gap to three points.
The Bulls answered, though, building their lead to nine points with less than one-minute to play thanks to clutch scoring from Marco Belinelli and Luol Deng.
Sam Smith of Bulls.com pointed out the former Bulls players who visiting with the Knicks:
3 former Bulls, Kurt Thomas, Ronnie Brewer and Tyson Chandler, in the Knicks starting lineup. It means something, though I'm not sure what
— Sam Smith (@SamSmithHoops) December 9, 2012
Alan Hahn of MSG Network pointed out the ugliness of the first quarter, but pointed out the nice finish by a Macro Belinelli buzzer beater:
— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) December 9, 2012
Chicago Sports News broke down the first half, including a surprising showing by Marco Belinelli:
Bulls lead the Knicks 43-41 at the half. Belinelli 17 pts, Deng 8 pts, Boozer 6 pts 8 reb.sportingnewschicago.com
— Chicago Sports News (@SportingNewsChi) December 9, 2012
Now, I'm just sitting here at the Bulls/Knicks Game really wishing I was in Vegas for the Pacquaio/Marquez fight. But I had to keep my word:
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) December 9, 2012
Here's a link the Chicago Bulls' official Twitter provided of Belinelli's buzzer-beating three pointer to end the first quarter:
Grades For Key Knicks Players
Tyson Chandler: A-
The former Olympian got into some foul trouble but was a monster in the paint while he was in the game. He put in 14 points and snagged a game-high 18 rebounds to help keep the Knicks in contention.
Raymond Felton: C+
Felton continued to contribute on the scoreboard with Anthony missing another game. He shot poorly, though, setting a career high with 30 attempts and generally tried to do too much offensively.
The Knicks' PG finished the game with a poor 9-of-30 from the field, scoring 27 points as a result. Felton also pulled down five rebounds and had five assists.
Grades For Key Bulls Players
Joakim Noah: B
Noah isn't known for his scoring but didn't have a very good game in that department. He finished 3-of-7 from the field and chipped in four more on 100 percent shooting from the foul line.
Handling the ball was a problem as well for the big man. He finished with a game-high nine turnovers.
His biggest contributions came on the boards; he hauled in 11 rebounds and had four blocks.
Luol Deng: B+
Deng had an average game but was pretty active all over the floor. He finished with 22 points and also pulled down five rebounds, dished three assists and had three steals.
His biggest moment was hitting two free throws to put the Bulls up by six points with 3:20 left to play. The next possession he answered with a bucket that answered a J.R. Smith three pointer.
Deciding Factor: Defense
The red-hot Knicks came into the United Center and failed to get into any type of rhythm thanks to an aggressive defensive effort by the Bulls.
New York shot just 32 percent from the field and 34 percent from behind the arc.
Game MVP: Marco Belinelli, Chicago Bulls
Belinelli certainly kept the Bulls in the game in the early running, dumping an impressive 17 points on the Knicks before halftime. It was his clutch shot in the waning minutes of the game that put the Bulls up by five and gave the team the victory.
He finished things off on the next possession. After a double team trapped him at the top of the paint, he found an open Noah who lobbed it in off the backboard to put the Bulls up by seven points.
The Bulls will stay home and await the Los Angeles Clippers, who will travel to the United Center for a matchup on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
New York will have little time to think about things as they will return home to Madison Square Garden on Saturday night and prepare to take on the Denver Nuggets Sunday night.
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