Bulls take on Carmelo, Knicks on CSN

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Bulls take on Carmelo, Knicks on CSN

The first time the Bulls and Knicks met this season, Chicago ended New York's five-game winning streak. The second matchup between the two East contenders saw four ejections -- including Joakim Noah -- in another Bulls win. What will matchup No. 3 bring? Find out tonight by tuning into Comcast SportsNet for the home call with Funk and Stacey. Coverage begins at 6:30 as Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill bring you Bulls Pregame Live. Then Join Neil and Stacey on Comcast SportsNet, the only place to hear the Bulls home call tonight.
The Knicks have been in the headlines seemingly all season. First it was how they would share the city with the newly relocated Brooklyn Nets; then the Knicks, behind MVP frontrunner Carmelo Anthony, began the year 6-0, and won their first 10 home games; After being blown out by former point guard Jeremy Lin and the Rockets, the Knicks have now lost seven of 12 to lose their hold on first place in the East (Miami).
And everything came to a boil when Anthony confronted Boston's Kevin Garnett, who apparently had some choice words about Anthony's wife. The Knicks' star waited for Garnett outside the Celtics' locker room, and went as far as standing outside the Celtics' team bus well after the game was over.
Anthony was suspended one game for his actions -- a game the Knicks lost, 81-76, at Indiana on Thursday -- marking the seventh game he's missed this season. But if his trends this season are accurate, the Bulls may be defending against a big scoring night from Anthony -- he has returned from a missed game three times this season, averaging 36.6 points on 51.4 percent shooting in those returns.
Anthony averages almost two points per game more in Knicks' losses (30.4) than in wins (28.5), but he's still the one player the Bulls can't allow to go off. He's going to get his 23-25 points no matter what -- he has scored fewer than 23 points in just three games. But if Luol Deng can reel Anthony in like he did in the second meeting (when Anthony had 29 points but on 10-of-25 shooting) the Bulls should be in good shape.
One of the candidates for MVP, Anthony is rested, motivated and desperately needs to get his team a win. He'll face a Bulls' defense also hungry to bounce back after allowing 54 second half points to the Bucks in a 104-96 loss at home. Something's got to give between these two contenders, so tune into Comcast SportsNet to see who prevails tonight in New York City.

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.” 

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