Joakim Noah picked up his fifth career triple-double and Jimmy Butler scored 19 points in a 109-90 win over the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon at the United Center on Noches éne•bé•a, part of the NBA’s eighth annual Latin nights program.
It was the ninth win in the Bulls’ last 11 games and moved them into third place in the Eastern Conference. It also marked the fourth straight game in which the Bulls’ offense scored 100 points or more, something that had never been done during the Tom Thibodeau era. They also set a team record by turning the ball over just three times in the win.
The Knicks, which entered Sunday having lost all six games that began before 3 p.m. local time by an average of 24 points, couldn’t have been worse out of the gate. The Bulls scored 16 of the game’s first 17 points, led 25-6 and used a 9-3 run to close the quarter and take a 37-16 first-quarter advantage. The 37 points were the most by the Bulls in any quarter this season, as they shot 50 percent from the field, made 10 of 11 free throws and grabbed seven offensive rebounds which resulted in seven second-chance points.
Butler (19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) found himself matched up on Anthony most of the afternoon, but the Marquette product’s staunch defense against one of the game’s best scorers didn’t mean less output offensively. In fact, Butler scored 10 points in the first quarter and actually outscored Anthony 17-15 before intermission.
Noah (13 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists) was just as impressive, nearly tallying his triple-double in the first half. He dished out five assists in the first quarter and added five more in the second — his 10 assists matched the Knicks’ total as a team — and with his 11 points, was just two rebounds shy of the triple-double in 21 first-half minutes.
New York made somewhat of a comeback in the second quarter, as Amare Stoudemire went to work. The reserve forward shot 6-for-7 in the quarter for 12 points, while Anthony added nine more on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting. The Knicks pulled within as little as nine late in the half before a Butler jumper pushed the lead back to 11 at halftime, 59-48.
Stoudemire finished with 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting and six rebounds, but battled foul trouble and played just 23 minutes before fouling out.
A pair of 3-pointers from Kirk Hinrich (11 points, 3 assists) and Mike Dunleavy (10 points, 7 rebounds) extended the third quarter lead to 18, 74-56. Hinrich was solid once again, and in the third quarter hit both of his 3-point attempts. Tyson Chandler (8 points, 22 rebounds, 3 blocks) grabbed 10 rebounds in the quarter alone, but the Knicks struggled again from the field, shooting just 39 percent and turning the ball over four times – the Bulls as a team had just two turnovers through three quarters.
Noah picked up his 10th rebound in the opening minute of the fourth quarter on a missed dunk attempt from Chandler to complete his fifth triple-double. The Bulls made their first three shots of the final stanza to push the lead back to 18, 88-70, early in the fourth quarter. DJ Augustin also got hot in the final period, scoring 20 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to push the lead to as many as 22.
Jimmer Fredette, who signed with the Bulls early on Sunday, entered the game with 3 minutes left and the Bulls up 20. He knocked down his first attempt and missed his second, finishing with two points.