Bulls drop second straight to Knicks, 106-94

They love to say here, New York, New York. So great they named it twice, right? But the Bulls never expected to say loss twice in the back to back with the Knicks. But it came to pass Thursday as the Bulls lost 106-94.

It was yet another discouraging setback in the Bulls hopes to make the playoffs as they fell to 36-35 and play in Orlando Saturday. The Knicks are 30-43.

Again, the Knicks controlled the game from the start, taking a first quarter lead and despite a few Bulls threats staying ahead and pulling away in the fourth quarter without a Bulls rally this time.

Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 30 points. Jimmy Butler had 19. Carmelo Anthony had 26 for New York and Kristaps Porzingis 19. The Knicks shots 51.3 percent. The Knicks had a 45-34 rebounding edge.

It was back to the injury report for a Bulls team that had 173 players games missed coming in. Pau Gasol was out with swelling in his knee, though coach Fred Hoiberg said it was as much expected as they didn’t thing Gasol would play both of the back to back with the Knicks. Hoiberg said he hoped Gasol would play Saturday in Orlando. Hoiberg also said Rose was suffering some back soreness, but worked through it. Rose started well with the Bulls first four points, though it was a tough start for Butler, scoreless in eight minutes with three turnovers as the Bulls were trying desperately to get him going. That left the Bulls trailing 25-16, but Butler finally began to find something with a pair of driving bank shots and a nice bounce feed from Bobby Portis for a dunk. That run enabled the Bulls to get within 31-27 after one quarter, though the Knicks shot 58 percent percent and were five of nine on threes.

But the reserves again had a difficult start to the second quarter with quick jump shots, missing their first four with a turnover as the Knicks ran off five straight to take a 36-27 lead and leave the Bulls again running uphill. Rose then returned and got the offense going with a pair of pullup jumpers and as difficult as it is to believe Rose’s first dunk of the season. It was a two hander coming in from the left side on a pass ahead from Butler to bring the Bulls within 38-35. Rose kept the offensive pressure on with a driving scoop, though the Knicks’ perimeter shooting off the triangle offense movements continued to baffle the Bulls defenders. But the Bulls endured the rookie mistakes again with Portis leaving Porzingis unguarded twice to double and Porzingis made a pair of threes and the Knicks went into halftime with a 53-45 lead. Meanwhile, Mike Dunleavy continued his struggles missing four of five shots. The Bulls bench was two of 14 in the half.

Again, the Bulls could not get much going to start the second half with six straight misses, coach Fred Hoiberg drawing a technical amidst that after Gibson appeared to be fouled going for a dunk. The sequence enabled the Knicks to take a 57-45 lead. Rose battled the Bulls back with several drives, including a wide circle around the lane and reverse layup that thrilled the New York observers. But they were enjoying their team dominating as the Knicks scored on eight of the last 10 possessions of the quarter to lead 80-65 entering the fourth quarter.

The Bulls got a bit going to start the fourth going with three guards as Rose played with Aaron Brooks and Justin Holiday. The Bulls after a pair of Holiday scores sent the Knicks to a timeout with the Bulls within 85-74. The Bulls made a bit of a run again to get within 90-79 on a Rose three-point play, but the Knicks had the answer each time with their shooting.