The Bulls Wednesday endured, survived, stumbled and then triumphed in a wild 122-119 double overtime victory over the New York Knicks. The Knicks in regulation and the first overtime came back from Bulls leads. But in the end it was Kris Dunn finally with a driving score after an empty shooting game and Justin Holiday and Lauri Markkanen with clutch closing free throws.
The Bulls were led by Markkanen with a career high 33 points and Denzel Valentine with a career high 20 points. Robin Lopez had 20 points and Holiday 16 points. David Nwaba had 13 off the bench and playing down the stretch. Dunn had nine points, eight assists and five steals. But he shot four of 18.
The Bulls scored the first two baskets of the second overtime, both Lopez dunks before going frigid again, failing on five of the next six possessions. But with Dunn finally finishing with a driving bank shot. Holiday made two free throws with 13.9 seconds left for a 120-116 lead. Porzingis then cut the Bulls lead to one point with 7.3 seconds left with a three coming out of the New York timeout. With 6.8 seconds left Markkanen made the two clinching free throws and Jarrett Jack missed a desecration runner.
The Bulls moved to 15-27 after having lost five of six. The Knicks fell to 19-22.
Nikola Mirotic was out again with a stomach virus. The Bulls hope he’ll be able to return Saturday when Zach LaVine makes his Bulls debut after February ACL surgery. The mothers of most of the Bulls players were in attendance, and Valentine and Markkanen did some showing off to start as the Bulls ran out to a quick lead, ahead 10-4 and then 17-2 with Dunn adding three steals, Valentine the first two baskets and Markkanen in a battle with the Knicks Kristaps Porzingis 11 first quarter points with three of five threes. Porzingis fired off 10 first quarter shots. The Bulls stumbled going to the bench and led 26-25 after the first quarter with the Knicks shooting 52.4 percent and the Bulls failing to get to the free throw line. It was obvious how much the Bulls missed Mirotic’s contribution scoring and rebounding off the bench as the Knicks went ahead 41-31 midway through the second quarter with another flat reserve performance without Mirotic. The starters came back in and began to get the movement back in the game, especially with Valentine making a pair of threes and Markkanen adding another as the Bulls closed their deficit to two points and trailed 52-48 at halftime. Markkanen had 14 for the Bulls and Valentine 10 while Michael Beasley proved problematic for the Bulls with 16 first half points, making six of seven shots. He enabled the Knicks to lead 24-18 on inside points with short jumpers working around Bulls defenders. The Bulls reserves were outscored in the half 28-9.
The Bulls offense was motoring to start the third quarter, first with Valentine with a three pointer and a driving scoop, Lopez inside with his spins and a Markkanen three getting the Bulls within 61-60. But every time the Bulls closed, the Knicks pulled away, several times lazily going after defensive rebounds or given up inside position for drives. The Knicks grabbed a 74-67 lead before it was Markkanan again with a spectacular driving slam dunk, beating Doug McDermott on the outside and slamming over Enes Kanter. He got the Bulls within 74-71 before McDermott cashed in a pair of threes, the second on yet another late Bulls reaction to a defensive rebound. New York led 82-78 after three quarters as Markkanen had 25 points through three quarters with seven threes. Cristiano Felicio then gave the Bulls his best efforts on the boards this season and even a driving score. The Bulls finally nosed ahead 91-89 with Valentine’s jumper for the first 20-point game in his career. The Bulls took a 98-92 lead with 5:45 left on a strong Nwaba followup of a Markkanen miss and Markkanen free throws. But the Bulls pulled up for long jumpers, enabling the Knicks to drive back within 98-96 with 3:51 remaining in the game. The Bulls got a pair of late clock scores from Holiday, but they could not get their defensive boards, allowing Beasley a pair of followup scores and were tied at 105 with 1:21 left in the game. Nwaba on Beasley and Porzingis on Markkanen had blocks in the last 30 seconds of regulation. The Bulls failed to score in the last two minutes. The Knicks had one last chance with .04 left and didn’t get a shot to go to overtime. The Bulls came in 1-2 in overtime games. The Bulls got scores late in the first overtime from Nwaba after picking up a loose ball and Lopez with a tip. But the Knicks taking the ball in with 4.8 seconds left ran a curl play that got Porzingis a driving dunk at the buzzer to tie the game at 112.