Knicks shoot Bulls' lights out

The Bulls just had too much going against them Thursday night against New York.

With a couple of free-agent additions in tow, coach Mike D'Antoni finally got a fair chance to show off the high-powered offense the Bulls could have had if they'd shown more enthusiasm for hiring him in 2008.

Knicks guard Toney Douglas obviously is still steamed the Bulls chose Taj Gibson instead of him with the No. 26 pick of the 2009 draft.

That has to be the reason Douglas erupted for a career-high 30 points, while the Knicks drained a remarkable 16 of 24 attempts from 3-point range. Poor defense and sloppy play by the Bulls can only explain so much.

Whatever the reason, this certainly was not the Bulls' night. New York raced to a 70-52 lead at halftime, and the Bulls never got closer than the final margin in a 120-112 head-scratching loss at the United Center.

“I don't think I've ever played against a team that shot that well from 3,” Bulls guard Kyle Korver said. “They shot the ball really well, but a lot of that was our fault. They had a lot of wide-open 3s. Once we gave them a few of those, they had their rhythm.”

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau talked about how the Bulls did exactly what they shouldn't do against the Knicks let them get confident with their outside shots. New York knocked down 5 of 7 shots from behind the arc in the first quarter and stayed in control for the rest of the night.

“That's what they do,” Korver added. “I watched them on NBA TV, the little training camp (preview) and all they do was shoot 3s. That's what they want to do. That can be a good thing and that can be a bad thing.”

Bulls guard Derrick Rose set a career-high with 14 assists and scored 24 points, even though he sat out the final 9:31 of the contest.

Thibodeau kept all the starters except Taj Gibson off the court down the stretch, perhaps figuring this game was a lost cause with the Bulls due to play in Boston on Friday.

When the subs scored 10 straight points to trim the deficit to 9, the fans began chanting, “We want Rose.” But he stayed on the sideline, and the Bulls never mounted a serious comeback.

Inside the locker room, no one made much of an issue out of the starters sitting out.

“It's fine,” Luol Deng said. “The group that came in did a better job than us and coach had all the right to keep them in.”

In the second quarter, when the Bulls were outscored 36-22, New York knocked down just 1 basket from 3-point range but hit 13 free throws, took advantage of several Bulls turnovers and grabbed 8 offensive rebounds.

The Bulls (2-2) seemed to be making progress toward a comeback when Korver drained an open 3-pointer to bring the home team within 95-87 early in the fourth quarter.

As much as the Knicks were due to cool off, they did not.

Douglas came right back with a quick 3-pointer, and in the next few minutes non-shooters Bill Walker and Landry Fields knocked down 3-pointers to boost the lead back to 19 with 9:03 left.

“Our game plan was to make them shoot tough 2-point shots, and we couldn't get them off that line, for whatever reason,” Joakim Noah said.

“That was definitely the game plan, and we messed it up as players. The beauty of it is we have a big game (Friday). We'll have a chance to, hopefully, redeem ourselves.”

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Mike McGraw's game tracker

<P>Knicks 120, Bulls 112”</P>

<P>”<B>Lights out: </B>The standout statistic in this game wasn't difficult to find. New York lit up the Bulls from the 3-point line early and often. The Knicks hit 16 of 24 attempts from long range, led by guard Toney Douglas with 30 points.”</P>

<P><B>Too little, too late:</B> When a group of subs cut the deficit to 9 points in the fourth quarter, fans at the United Center chanted, “We want Rose.” Derrick Rose stayed on the bench with 24 points and a career-high 14 assists, and it's doubtful he would have made a difference.”</P>

<P><B>Shots that never sleep: </B>It's no secret Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni loves the 3-point shot. “I thought we allowed them to play to their strengths,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You have to take something away. I thought we didn't take anything away.”</P>