On Sunday in New York the Knicks won a thriller over the Bulls. On Tuesday the Bulls got pay back in Chicago 98-86. Derick Rose missed the game, his 13th absence in 14 games. But Richard Hamilton scored 20 points and Luol Deng added 19 in leading the Bulls to a win over upset minded New York.
”That’s what I’ve been doing my whole career,” Hamilton said. ”But on this team, I’ve got to pick my moments. There are so many guys on this team that can score.”
Rose lobbied Head Coach Tom Thibodeau to let him play despite spraining an ankle in the overtime loss on Sunday. But the coach said no.
”I just think it was the smart thing to do in this situation,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”If we’re going to err, we’re going to err on the side of caution. He wanted to play and we felt it was best that he didn’t.”
The win moved the Bulls to three games up on Miami for the #1 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. A spot the Bulls would like to secure for home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
”If nothing else, if there’s a Game 7, you want to play at home,” Kyle Korver, who chipped in 14 points, said. ”We know that. But Thibs preaches every day, ‘One game at a time, one game at a time.’ We’re a brainwashed bunch.”
Carmelo Anthony again led New York with 29 points. But he was not happy with his rebounding performance.
”We got outrebounded,” Anthony said. ”They beat us on the boards. I got two rebounds. I’ve got to do better than that.”
Chicago had a 51-33 rebounding advantage. Tyson Chandler had 15 of the Knicks 33 boards. ”That’s kind of their game,” he said. ”They attack the basket. They get you out of position and then the big guys come and crash the boards. We didn’t do a good job of boxing out.”
On Thursday, the Miami Heat will come calling. This will be a big game for both teams as they battle for the #1 spot. A win by the Bulls would make it very difficult for the Heat to catch them. The Bulls have three “easy” games next week in Detroit, Washington and Charlotte before facing the Heat again next Thursday in Miami. If the Heat has designs on the top spot, they had better win both Thursday games.
The Heat has the Knicks, Nets and Raptors next week before hosting the Bulls. After that game they will have four left. They will need to be within a game or two to have a shot.