NEW YORK — It certainly wasn’t the performance the Bulls had hoped for when they entered Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
The Bulls fell to the New York Knicks, 100-89, in a game that was close to start but fell apart late in the first half for the Bulls.
“Well (the Knicks) went 6-1 to start the second quarter which started the change,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And then they went 9-0 to end the second quarter. Defensively we weren’t really good. I like the fight to come back. I thought we made some good plays down the stretch. And we missed some wide-open threes you live with ... You have to give them credit. They played very hard.”
The Knicks and Bulls were neck and neck, with neither team being able to pull away from the other, until the end of the first half.
Carmelo Anthony forced a turnover, which set up Raymond Felton for a driving dunk. That started a 9-0 run for the Knicks and allowed them to go into halftime with a 45-39 lead.
In the second half, things did not get any better for the Bulls.
New York continued to expand on its lead. At one point the Knicks led, 67-50, during the third quarter, the largest lead of the game for either team.
The Bulls started to put up some fight in the fourth quarter and chipped away at the Knicks' lead.
D.J. Augustin hit three free-throw attempts and followed with a 3-pointer with 6:24 left in the game to cut the deficit to nine. Taj Gibson later pulled the Bulls within six points after completing a three-point play to bring the score to 93-87.
But the Knicks managed to push their lead back to double digits and eventually won the game by 11.
“It was disappointing,” Joakim Noah, who finished the game with 13 points and 17 rebounds, told reporters. “Our mentality wasn’t very good. We have to let this one go and get ready for tomorrow.”
The Bulls shot 29-of-73 from the field in the loss and went 6-of-22 from 3-point range. They did, however, shoot 24-of-30 from the free-throw line.
[WATCH: Breaking down Bulls' loss to Knicks]
Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Mike Dunleavy and Gibson, as well as Noah, finished the game with 13 points.
For the Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr. put up a team-high 20 points. Anthony and J.R. Smith recorded 17 points each, with Smith going 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
All three were named specifically by Thibodeau as reasons why the Knicks were so tough on Sunday.
“J.R. has been on a roll from the three,” he said. “We let him get going. I thought Hardaway really hurt us. Carmelo made plays when he was in there. But I thought their ball pressure really hurt us. We turned the ball over early, and that wasn’t good.”
The loss snapped the Bulls' seven-game winning streak and allowed the Toronto Raptors to jump ahead of the Bulls into the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference.