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Article updated: 4/8/2012 9:51 PM

How Bulls gave this one away

The Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (7) celebrates with Steve Novak after hitting a 3-point shot in the closing seconds of overtime Sunday to defeat the Bulls.

The Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) celebrates with Steve Novak after hitting a 3-point shot in the closing seconds of overtime Sunday to defeat the Bulls.

 

Associated Press

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The Bulls are used to rolling with the punches this season, playing without key players, then accepting them back into the lineup.

But one thing they hadn't done all year is give away a game that was in the bag.

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With Derrick Rose shaking off considerable rust and the Bulls pulling a complete no-show in the opening eight minutes, they still led New York by 10 points late in the fourth quarter Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Then Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 11.2 seconds left in regulation and added a go-ahead 3-pointer with 8.2 seconds remaining in overtime to give New York a 100-99 victory. It was the Bulls' first loss of the season by fewer than 4 points.

Rose scored 29 points in his return from 12 games off with a groin injury. He hit just 8 of 26 shots, though, with 8 turnovers in 39 grueling minutes.

"I felt good," Rose told reporters after the game. "When I was out there, I was just getting my groove back. My wind was OK. It just felt good to be out there."

Anthony's twin 3-pointers will star on the highlight shows, but the Knicks never should have had a chance to even the score at the end of regulation.

While going scoreless over the final 3:45, the Bulls missed 4 free throws with a chance to build on a 3-point lead and cement the win.

Luol Deng bricked a pair with 34 seconds left, and Rose misfired with 19 seconds on the clock.

"It was just one of those games," Rose said. "I missed those (darn) free throws, and hopefully next time if I get the opportunity I'm going to knock them down."

Before the rough ending, the Bulls had a miserable beginning. The first quarter was a continuous series of sloppy turnovers, followed by one of the Knicks dropping in an open shot.

The Easter bunny hadn't even finished his rounds when the Bulls trailed 27-6. The Bulls hit 6 of 22 shots with 7 turnovers in the first quarter, then started chipping away at the lead.

"We had to make a lot of mistakes there to lose that game," Kyle Korver said, "and we did."

If this matchup does turn out to be a first-round playoff preview, the Bulls might want to revisit their defensive plan against Anthony, who scored 43 points while hitting 16 of 31 shots. It was the highest point total by a Bulls opponent this season, topping Dwyane Wade's 36 on March 14.

Deng didn't have his usual strong defensive game and hit just 4 of 16 shots himself. The Bulls tried Taj Gibson on Anthony some of the time, but he couldn't prevent the tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation. Rookie Jimmy Butler played only a few seconds at the end of quarters.

"We should be able to overcome all of that stuff," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You just have to do the right things. We do the right things, you're not going to have those problems. You're not going to have those turnovers.

"Simple plays -- protect the ball, keep the ball moving, quick decisions, hit the first open man, sustain your spacing, protect the ball, tuck it on the catch, fight for your space, get your space. Simple."

Rose got it going in the second half, hitting 3 baskets from 3-point range and scoring 14 points in the third quarter. He converted a 4-point play to put the Bulls up 89-80.

A short time later, Gibson's jumper sent the visitors ahead 91-81 with 3:45 left. Rose missed his last 4 shots of the fourth quarter. Then after Rose put his team up 99-95 with 2:50 left in overtime, the Bulls hit another dry spell.

The Bulls get a chance for redemption Tuesday when the Knicks visit the United Center.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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