Bulls dominate Knicks with physical play
The world didn't end on Friday, but chaos reigned at the World's Most Famous Arena.
Essentially, what happened in New York was the Bulls executed their game plan to perfection and took apart the East-leading Knicks. The Bulls beat New York for the second time this season 110-106 after leading by as many as 25 points in the third quarter.
This game will be remembered, though, for the fourth-quarter meltdowns. Joakim Noah and former Bulls center Tyson Chandler were ejected after a scuffle with 4:39 remaining.
The Knicks also finished the game without coach Mike Woodson (tossed), top scorer Carmelo Anthony (tossed) and second-leading scorer J.R. Smith (fouled out).
The crowd at MSG was up in arms during most of the second half as the Knicks players vented at the referees. The bottom line is the Bulls created a baktun's worth of frustration by dominating the Knicks so thoroughly.
"You get a 25-point lead on the road against a team like this, you're doing a lot of good things," coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the game. "I'm disappointed with our approach and discipline in the fourth quarter."
Thibodeau and Noah picked up technicals of their own, before Noah was sent to the locker room. Noah and Chandler were battling for rebounding position under the basket. Chandler appeared to throw an elbow to Noah's chest, Noah appeared to retaliate with a club to the head and shoulder, and the two emotional players were in each other's face.
No punches were thrown and hardly any contact was made before the two centers were pulled apart, so it's hard to imagine anyone getting suspended.
"No. They got tangled up," Thibodeau said.
The Noah-Chandler skirmish came a few minutes after Smith, Anthony and Woodson departed in swift succession.
"(Things) were definitely escalating, but I don't think they're used to being down that much, too," Noah said. "If they were up 20 points, I don't think they would have been that frustrated."
No matter what happened in the fourth quarter — the Bulls giving up 45 points or the Knicks running their mouths — this was an impressive performance by the Bulls.
They chased New York off the 3-point line, spread the floor and opened lanes to the basket, and frustrated Anthony by sending aggressive defender Jimmy Butler at him for long stretches. New York (19-7) lost at home for just the second time this season.
"I think from the jump they were the more physical team from the beginning of the game and it carried out throughout the whole game," Anthony said. "It kind of got to us a little bit."
Anthony finished with 29 points, but hit just 10 of 25 shots. Anthony and Smith had scored 55 of New York's 74 points by the time they were both out of the game. The Knicks make an average of 12 3-pointers per game, but hit just 8 of 26 on Friday.
Luol Deng led the Bulls with 29 points, Marco Belinelli added 22, and Kirk Hinrich got the Bulls (15-10) off to a quick start by hitting 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range.
Deng injured his left shoulder in the third quarter when New York's Jason Kidd slapped at Deng's wrist and caused his left arm to bend awkwardly. After a few minutes on the bench with a heating pad on the shoulder, Deng returned to the game, but said later the shoulder felt sore.
Taj Gibson played four minutes, despite a bad ankle, and clearly wasn't moving well. The Bulls play in Atlanta on Saturday.
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