The Chicago Bulls suffered a blow to their playoff hopes Saturday, falling to the New York Knicks, 110-98, and falling two games behind the Washington Wizards for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with two games left to play. Kevin Durant led the way for the Knicks, pouring in 28 points, while Courtney Lee and Robin Lopez added 20 and 17 points, respectively. Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 24 points, while Joakim Noah added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Chicago Bulls fell to the New York Knicks, 95-84, in New York last night, and now sit two games behind the Washington Wizards for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. After beginning the season as favorites to win the East, the Bulls have played .500 basketball for the past two months, and are struggling to regain the momentum they had at the end of last season. That’s no surprise to sports experts who predicted that Derrick Rose would miss the season with a torn ACL, or the two other starters who are still out with injuries.
The Bulls (26-36) traveled to Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks (35-28). They have won two of their last three games to try to overtake Washington in the battle for the final NBA playoff spot. New York enters tonight’s game with a 9-1 record over its last ten games and is tied with Atlanta for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The eighth. In April, the Bulls were in 10th place, three games ahead of Toronto, after winning six games. Since then, they are 4-8 and 4-4 without Zach LaVine, who is out again today due to NBA health and safety protocols.
Julius Randle (34/7/3) and R.J. Barrett (22/7/6) were the captains for the Knicks, while Nikola Vucevic (26/18/3) was the best player for Chicago. As has been the case all year, the Bulls failed to capture the ball and were intercepted 14 times. They also missed 17 of their 10 second chances and made just 60% of their free throws.
The Bulls played with New York for most of the night, but a disastrous fourth quarter in which their bench gave them a 20-3 lead ultimately led to their demise. Since that loss, the Bulls are 2-4 in their last six games against the Knicks.
The Knicks came out with a lot of defensive energy in the first quarter, which is typical of teams coached by former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls hit 0-for-8 from distance and New York forced the visitors into as many as seven consecutive misses. Meanwhile, Randle could make no mistake: he finished the quarter with 14 points and provided a 27-13 rebound for the Knicks, who took a 13-point lead.
The Bulls stepped up their defense and started the second quarter with a 13-4 run that cut the lead to four points. But the Knicks responded with an 11-2 run to take another double-digit lead. Chicago desperately needed a spark, and it came in the form of Vucevic, who finished the first half with 16 points, including 10 in the second half. Kobe White and Garrett Temple each scored seven points, and the Bulls won the quarter by nine and went into the locker room trailing 52-48.
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Vucevic continued his strong play, scoring eight points and notching his 41st double-double of the season as the Bulls took their first lead of the game with seven minutes left in the third quarter. But then, much to the dismay of the visitors, the referees had one of the worst periods ever seen from a professional refereeing team. In a four-minute span, they incorrectly ruled that Vucevic’s ball was in the air when Randle had clearly knocked it down, then Tice and White were hit in the face without warning on their way to the basket.
Thanks to a 12-6 run at the end of the third quarter, the Bulls entered the final period trailing by just one point. But the Knicks fought back, easily imposed their will on Chicago and won the fourth quarter by a 20-point margin. Despite their best efforts, the Bulls lost 113-94.
The Bulls (26-36) host the Milwaukee Bucks (38-23) on Friday at the United Center. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago Plus and WBBM 780 AM. As always, find the latest Bulls news, articles, podcasts and more on Bulls On Tap.
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