The New York Knicks entered a torture chamber on Sunday afternoon when they visited the Chicago Bulls for a 1 p.m. ET tipoff. The game was tied for the first 19 seconds, and the Knicks trailed for the remaining 47:41 in the 109-90 setback.
New York is now 0-7 this season in games starting at 3 p.m. local time or earlier.
Joakim Noah tallied his second triple-double of the year with 13 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high 14 assists; he brought his feisty defense as well, swatting two shots and filching a pair of steals. All five Bulls starters reached double figures, but D.J. Augustin came off the bench for a game-high 23 points in 26 minutes. Jimmer Fredette debuted in garbage time and knocked down a long two-pointer to delight the crowd.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 21 points and came up with just two boards, well off his season averages of 28.2 and 8.7 per game. Amar'e Stoudemire provided a spark off the bench with 14 points and six rebounds, but he fouled out on a moving screen at halfcourt, which is never a smart play. Tyson Chandler posted a rare big game with eight points, 22 rebounds and three blocks.
The Bulls led by as many as 25 points in the first half, but the Knicks trimmed it back to 59-48 at the break behind improved defensive effort and some zone looks in the second quarter. Chicago solved that in the second half, and New York couldn't sustain the threat of a comeback.
The Knicks have lost 12 of the last 14 games, while the Bulls improved to 9-1 over their last 10. It served as a microcosm of each team's season.
The Knicks are now in 11th place and 6.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final playoff spot. With 22 games remaining, the Knicks have a mammoth hill to climb, especially in light of their six-game skid. They also do not have a first-round draft pick this year. If they cannot beat the Detroit Pistons on Monday, their playoff hopes are as good as dead.
The Bulls edged ahead of the fourth-place Toronto Raptors with the win, and they'll try to hold on down the stretch and keep home-court advantage in the first round. The Washington Wizards are just two games behind them, and the Brooklyn Nets are two games in back of that. The Bulls visit those Nets on Monday seeking to make it a five-game winning streak.
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