Bulls look for 61st win of season vs. Knicks

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Bulls look for 61st win of season vs. Knicks

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Posted: 9:45 a.m.

(AP) -- The Chicago Bulls are enjoying a memorable season, having already clinched the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed while also reaching the 60-win mark.

None of their victories, however, have come over the New York Knicks.

In a matchup of two teams riding seven-game winning streaks, the Bulls look to avoid being swept by the Knicks in a season series for the first time in 11 years Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Chicago (60-20) secured the East's top seed Friday and is one game back of West-leading San Antonio for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wants his team to make a run for the NBA's best record and isn't planning on resting his stars.

READ: Gibson seizing opportunity down the stretch

Thibodeau, who has a reputation of demanding perfection from his players, would probably also like to see his team prove it can beat New York.

The Knicks (42-38) can clinch the East's sixth seed with one more victory or a Philadelphia loss. They own the tiebreaker with the 76ers but have a much tougher remaining schedule. While Philadelphia concludes the season Wednesday at home against Detroit, New York visits Boston.

The Knicks are in position to sweep the season series from the Bulls for the first time since 1999-2000, but much has changed since they last met on Christmas.

This will be Carmelo Anthony's first game with New York against Chicago, and the Bulls expect to finally be at full strength. Carlos Boozer sat out the first meeting, a 120-112 home loss Nov. 4, and Joakim Noah was sidelined in a 103-95 defeat at MSG on Dec. 25.

The Knicks might be short-handed this time, though.

Amare Stoudemire, who averages 25.4 points and a team-best 8.2 rebounds, has sat out the last two games with a sprained left ankle and is listed as questionable. If Stoudemire can't go, New York could have trouble on the glass against a Bulls team that ranks second in the league with 44.1 boards per game.

Although Stoudemire has been sidelined, the Knicks still extended their winning streak Sunday with a 110-109 victory in Indiana.
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New York, which had lost six in a row prior to this run, trailed by 11 early in the fourth quarter and was down by six with 3:31 remaining before scoring the game's final seven points. Anthony had 34 points, made the go-ahead jumper with 4.9 seconds left and blocked a potential winning attempt by Danny Granger.

"It was a big game for us confidence-wise," said Anthony, averaging 31.5 points in his last eight games after averaging 22.2 in his previous nine. "Coming down the stretch, finishing out the regular season with some good momentum, trying to make a big push."

The Bulls are also hoping to enter the playoffs heading in the right direction and are eager to put together a crisper effort following Sunday's 102-99 win over Orlando, which was without Dwight Howard.

Chicago, winner of 19 of 21, shot 60.0 percent but turned the ball over 21 times, one shy of matching a season high set against the Knicks on Christmas.

Derrick Rose bailed the Bulls out by scoring 11 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter. He also made all 10 of his free throws.

"We continue to let teams come back," said Rose, who has reached the 30-point mark in three of his last five games. "It's going to hurt us if we continue to do this. We've got to learn how to put teams away."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

After loss to Mavs, Wade says Bulls 'keep putting (their) hand on the hot stove every day'

After loss to Mavs, Wade says Bulls 'keep putting (their) hand on the hot stove every day'

Dwyane Wade sounded every bit like a frustrated 35-year old father when talking about the repeated ills and so-called growing pains of his Bulls, as they surrendered yet another game against a sub-.500 team.

Sometimes it's the New York Knicks whom the Bulls are offering temporary refuge. Or maybe the Minnesota Timberwolves as they are all-too-generous to roll out the welcome mat for returning figures to Chicago.

Tuesday it was the Dallas Mavericks, the second-worst team in the Western Conference, who stormed into the United Center and escaped with a 99-98 win, courtesy of Wesley Matthews' triple with 11.7 seconds left followed by him locking down Jimmy Butler on the ensuing possession.

Wade was forced to take a contested 21-footer that went awry, but the Bulls' ills went far beyond the last two possessions, when the Mavericks exploited their strategy yet again.

"Either you learn the lesson or figure out," Wade said. "Keep putting your hand on the hot stove every day.

"We just gotta figure out not to put our hands on that stove. And understand when we come in the kitchen, that stove is hot, don't touch it. As I continue to say, this is a very young team and they have to play in these games and have to go through these moments. The one thing you want, whether it's this year or next year, is to not make the same mistakes."

The Bulls are apparently insistent on touching the stove and keep burning themselves, the most recent time with the confusion or the bad strategy in defending the Mavericks' final offensive possession.

Deron Williams found himself with Nikola Mirotic defending him off a switch from Jimmy Butler. Not the quickest afoot, Mirotic gave Williams an easy path to the basket and Wade was the backside help, not wanting to leave Matthews on the wing for a triple.

But with the bench commanding Wade to help, Williams easily found Matthews for an open 3 as Wade had no help for his man. With the Bulls up two, one could see how Wade didn't want to leave Matthews.

"I'll have to go back and watch, but it looks like Deron got downcourt, Wade went over to help and we didn’t rotate accordingly," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We obviously need to do a better job of staying in front of the other end."

Mirotic was supposed to be brought back slowly in his return from strep throat, but he played the entire fourth quarter and 22 minutes overall, having lost eight pounds with his illness that had him miss four games.

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Their issues were game-long and have been seasonlong as the Mavericks were supposed to absorb a shellacking from a Bulls team that felt a 25-point beatdown in Texas last month.

Instead, they would've been happy with settling for an escape when Butler rose up over his college teammate Matthews for a 20-foot wing jumper with 22.8 seconds left.

Butler nearly added a triple-double and clutch moment to his growing resume with 24 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds but was dogged by Matthews all night, the defender who wouldn't give him airspace, went chest-to-chest and even earned a technical foul when he felt Butler exaggerated some contact in the third quarter.

"He took away my space, wouldn't let me get to my spot," Butler said of Matthews. "Good for him. I should've did something different."

Wade missed 13 of his 21 shots, scoring 17 with five rebounds on his 35th birthday

With scoring at a premium, Robin Lopez had a season-high 21 points being guarded by Dirk Nowitzki — and they were necessary considering the Bulls were without Taj Gibson (ankle injury) and Doug McDermott couldn't repeat his 30-point showing from Sunday in Memphis.

Rick Carlisle has long been regarded as one of the top strategic coaches, and though he doesn't have the usual personnel from the Mavericks' salad days, he had enough tricks up his sleeve to throw the Bulls off.

Six Mavericks scored in double figures, led by Harrison Barnes' 20 points and Seth Curry's 18, as Barnes, Matthews and Curry combined for eight triples — spreading the Bulls out and picking them apart defensively.

The Mavericks started Nowitzki at center, going to an almost all-small lineup. And though Lopez scored 14 points in the first half, trying to feed him seemed to take the Bulls out of it in the second half.

The energy was tardy to the party, as they shot just 41 percent in the first half but woke up a little in the third quarter — continuing their all-too familiar trend of half-hearted efforts against lesser teams.

And it looks like the ever-optimistic Wade is dishing out some realism, probably something that comes with the perspective of turning 35.

"You can't keep getting stressed out or frustrated. We've been going through this all year. We'll get back in in the morning.

"Once you realize who you are, you're better off. I sleep better at night. Once we want to be a better team and start winning games, we will. I'm not mad, I'm not frustrated, I'm not stressed. Just taking the hits."

Bulls' Rajon Rondo oddly runs behind back of former coach Rick Carlisle

Bulls' Rajon Rondo oddly runs behind back of former coach Rick Carlisle

Is Rajon Rondo avoiding his former coach?

During Tuesday night's Bulls-Mavericks game, Rondo awkwardly ran behind Mavs coach Rick Carlisle as the third quarter was winding down.

Take a look at the play in the video above.

Rondo, who played with the Mavericks in the 2014-15 season, had a weird relationship with Carlisle. Most notably, he and Carlisle had a heated exchange during a game on Feb. 24, 2015 against the Toronto Raptors. It eventually led to Carlisle saying that Rondo was a bad fit for the Mavericks and that the team should have never traded for him.

On Tuesday, Rondo apparently shook Carlisle's hand before he checked in the game for the first time in the first quarter. 

All is well, it seems, but that was still weird.