The New York Knicks came into Friday's contest just a half game out of first place in the Eastern Conference, despite having lost six of their last 10 games. The Chicago Bulls were three games behind the Knicks and 6-4 in their last 10.
But on Friday night, one man made all the difference. It's safe to say that Luol Deng brought his A-game to Madison Square Garden. He scored 33 points and carried the Bulls to a 108-101 victory.
This matchup didn't bode well for the Knicks. The Bulls had been 6-1 against Atlantic Division opponents. They had beaten the Knicks in their past three games and won five of the last six in the series.
The Knicks were also shorthanded, missing Raymond Felton, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby due to injury.
In their last meeting on Dec. 21, the Bulls led the entire game and were up by as many as 25 in the 110-106 win. This game went just as poorly as that one for the Knicks.
The Bulls shot the ball twice as efficiently as their opponent for most of the first half (after two quarters, Chicago was 57.5 percent from the field while the Knicks had their worst first half of the season, shooting to 29.8 percent). Chicago was also locked in from three-point range, especially in the first half, going 4-of-6 from downtown while the Knicks were 0-of-5.
The second half didn't go much better, as the Knicks still trailed by 22 points after three quarters. Boos rained down from the celebrity-studded crowd at MSG. They trimmed the deficit to just five points late in the game, but time wasn't on their side.
After losing this one, the Knicks will look to beat up on their next opponent, the New Orleans Hornets. Then they will fly to London to face the Detroit Pistons.
The Bulls appear to be headed in the right direction and should get Derrick Rose back sometime in the near future. They next play the Phoenix Suns before a tough matchup against the surprising Atlanta Hawks.
But how does the grading curve work for this game? Well, I'll have to get my red pen out, because the Bulls took the Knicks to school.