Derrick Rose made his return from injury on Sunday in Madison Square Garden. He didn’t quite shake all the rust off though as he missed two critical free throws in the last seconds , setting the stage for some Carmelo Anthony heroics and a Knicks win in what is a possible first round playoff match-up.
Anthony scored 43 points in the Knicks 100-99 overtime victory to lead the Knicks (29-27) to their second straight win. He hit a late three in regulation and the last five points in overtime.
This was a playoff game. We have a chance, we might play these guys in the playoffs if we keep doing what we’re doing and get that seed, so this was a big statement game for us and we willed this one tonight,” Anthony said
“This was one of the top. Overtime. Easter Sunday. Everybody’s watching. Everybody’s in the Garden. So this was one of the top”, Anthony said when asked about where this performance ranks on his career highlights.
The Bulls should be commended for coming back from 21 down in the third to a 10 point lead in the fourth on the road. That’s a 31 point run in the second half, giving notice that no lead is safe when playing Rose and company. In Dose’s first appearance in the last 13 games, he scored 29 points. Wait until he gets his rhythm back. Still he was dejected after losing in his first game back, feeling he let one get away.
“It’s tough. It was definitely tough,” Rose said. “When you lose a game, especially for us, it’s tough. It’s going to hurt us no matter who we lose to, but that team played great, man. They were knocking down shots. Didn’t give up when we went up that big lead. They kept fighting.”
The two teams will meet again on Tuesday in Chicago. The Knicks now hold a one game lead over Milwaukee for the 8th spot in the East. If they hold on to that spot and the Bulls hold on to the #1 spot, the two will meet in round one.
“I was proud of my teammates the way we stuck in there,” center Tyson Chandlersaid. “That’s a great team that we faced today. We knew they would battle back. You know, a lot of ups and downs in the game, but the one thing we did was keep our composure, kept believing in each other and we were able to will through to win.”
The Bulls got off to a rough start, missing 11 of their first 12 while watching the Knicks hit 12 of their first 16 in racing out to an early 27-6 lead.
“We should be able to overcome all of that stuff,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You just have to do the right things. We do the right things, you’re not going to have those problems. You’re not going to have those turnovers. Simple plays: Protect the ball, keep the ball moving, quick decisions, hit the first open man, sustain your spacing, protect the ball, tuck it on the catch, fight for your space, get your space. Simple.”