Coming off a disappointing loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at home, the Chicago Bulls sought to establish a new winning streak. The Bulls now have a chance to do just that as they came away with a 108-101 win.
Kirk Hinrich, who sat out Wednesday’s loss to Milwaukee, returned to the starting lineup as an actual gametime decision. The starters did a good job of starting out strong. They were on the board first when Carlos Boozer hit Luol Deng for a left baseline three. Soon afterwards, Hinrich drove through the middle of the lane to finish with a layup, putting Chicago up 5-0.
The Knicks scored right after with James White getting a bucket, but the Bulls showed prosperity on both ends of the floor. Before the first timeout of the game, a nine-point lead was established by Chicago. This came as a result of good ball movement: Boozer dished the ball to Deng who set up Richard Hamilton for a layup. The Bulls did experience some troubles as Hinrich picked up two quick fouls with Hamilton doing the same afterwards. Despite that, Thibodeau decided to stick with them both. While it was definitely risky, it was worth it as their lead continued to grow from there. The Bulls passed the ball well to find their teammates for the right shot leading to a 29-18 Chicago lead at the conclusion of the first quarter.
As the second quarter began, Thibodeau sent out Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Deng, Taj Gibson, and Noah to start. They adopted the mindset used to build their first quarter lead. Gibson opened the quarter with a layup followed by another left baseline three by Deng. The lead had been further extended to 14 points, and it would not end there.
Chicago’s biggest lead of the quarter came following a layup by Deng to make it 57-32. Prior to that, Deng had a few other baskets, which contributed to his twelve-point quarter. This served to be a big factor of the success achieved by the Bulls so far as the first half closed out with Chicago ahead of New York 57-36.
Deng also held New York’s Carmelo Anthony to 4-14 shooting for 10 points in the first half. While New York struggled tremendously shooting 29.8% on field goals, the Bulls were thriving with a 57.5% field goal percentage.
In the third quarter, Chicago’s offense did not seem to come quite as easily as it had earlier. Despite that, they continued to score and defend well. The Bulls scored their first points in the third after Deng came away with a steal that allowed for a layup. They maintained a healthy lead throughout the quarter by continuing their good ball movement, finding the bottom of the net, and defense. By the time the game had seen the completion of the third, the lead was not any prettier for New York; Chicago led 82-60.
New York eventually found something to go in their favor in the fourth quarter. With 4:32 remaining in the game, the Bulls were still ahead 99-78, and it seemed as if the bench had a legitimate chance of seeing some playing time. But the Knicks found some life in them going on a 14-4 run. This caused Thibodeau and all his frustration to call a timeout with 1:07 left with a 103-96 Bulls lead. The Knicks had cut the game to single digits for the first time since the game began.
Following the timeout, Belinelli acted as the ball handler and came through making several free throws to close out the game and get the 108-101 win. While it may have come down to a close, nerve-racking end, Chicago at least came out with the win. They are now 20-14.
Luol Deng led the way with 33 points (13-18 FG, 3-5 3PT, 4-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. Carmelo Anthony added 39 points (14-32 FG, 4-9 3PT, 7-9 FT), 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block despite experiencing troubles early on.
The Bulls are back in action on Saturday, January 12 as they look to defeat the Phoenix Suns at 7 PM CT.