The Bulls should be ready to unveil a new team slogan soon — the “Bounce Back Guarantee.”
As bad as they looked against Philadelphia, the Bulls made sure not to exacerbate the failure against the Knicks on Thursday. Tom Thibodeau’s squad built a 12-point lead, then hung on for a 105-102 victory at Madison Square Garden.
By avoiding a two-game losing streak, the Bulls (19-6) continued an impressive trend. They haven’t lost two games in a row during the regular season in nearly a full calendar year. The last time it happened was last Feb. 5 and 7 against Golden State and Portland.
Derrick Rose was officially named an all-star starter on Thursday, then didn’t disappoint the star-studded crowd in New York. Rose produced 32 points and 13 assists, hitting 12 of 26 shots from the field.
While scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter, Rose had the crowd gasping with a couple of acrobatic drives to the basket, along with his usual array of tougher-than-they-look floaters in traffic.
Rose will be an all-star starter for the second straight year and an all-star for the third time. The other East starters are Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard — a lineup that seemed set the moment balloting began.
“It means a lot,” Rose told reporters before the game. “I remember not being in the All-Star Game. Just wanting to be in the game is something you should take to heart.”
Rose received roughly 1.51 million votes, ranking a close third behind Howard (1.6 million) and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (1.55 million).
“I don’t take anything for granted,” Rose added. “I don’t take any one of my fans that went online and voted for me for granted. I appreciate them all and I hope they continue to watch me.”
Luol Deng’s drive to make the all-star team for the first time has been slowed by his wrist injury. Deng missed his seventh straight game with the torn ligament in his let wrist, but is still said to be close to returning.
Richard Hamilton sat out again with a groin strain and thigh bruise, but he figures to be sidelined for two weeks or more as he tries to get healthy and stay in the lineup.
This was a game that seemed to teeter between complete control and extreme danger for the visitors. The Bulls led by as many as 12 in the third quarter and went on a run whenever the score got close.
The Knicks (8-14) were within 101-100 with 23 seconds left on a layup by Landry Fields. After 2 free throws by Kyle Korver boosted the lead to 3, New York ran a play that got Amare Stoudemire open for a good look from 3-point land, but it bounced off the rim.
Carmelo Anthony got another chance to tie, but his 40-footer at the buzzer missed badly. Stoudemire scored 34 points, while Anthony had 26 on 10-of-26 shooting.
Korver and Carlos Boozer added 16 points each for the Bulls. Coach Tom Thibodeau gave rookie forward Jimmy Butler a chance to guard Anthony for most of the fourth quarter. Butler also knocked down a 17-foot jumper with 1:07 left that put the Bulls up 101-96.
The toughest part of the Bulls’ nine-game road trip is over. Now they won’t play back-to-back games until after the Feb. 26 All-Star Game.
Thibodeau has a chance to be the Eastern Conference coach. That honor will be determined by which team has the best record through Feb. 15.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.