Number of healthy (and big) Knicks is shrinking
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CHICAGO -- The Knicks' longest-winning streak in 19 years came to an end Thursday night. Now you wonder if they'll be able to avoid their first losing streak in nearly a month.
Playing with nine available bodies, the Knicks wore down against the Bulls, wasting a 15-point third-quarter lead and having their 13-game winning streak snapped with a 118-111 overtime loss.
The Knicks expended so much energy that they might not have much left tonight when they play in Cleveland.
The Bulls, a potential first-round opponent of the Knicks, play extremely hard, never stop attacking and aren't intimidated by facing a team with a long winning streak. Chicago also put an end to the second-longest winning streak in NBA history when they halted Miami's run at 27 in a row.
Former Knick Nate Robinson gave his old team fits, scoring 35 points and celebrating after nearly every one. Robinson outscored the Knicks 8-6 in overtime. Jimmy Butler finished with 22 and 14 rebounds.
The Knicks lead Indiana by two games for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Their magic number to clinch the second spot, which would give them the homecourt advantage for at least the first two rounds of the postseason, remains at three with four to go. The Knicks host the Pacers Sunday.
The Knicks led by 15 with 4:51 left in the third and were down 99-90 with 5:42 left in regulation. They appeared weary but they came back and tied it at 105 on two free throws by Anthony with 14.5 seconds to go.
Anthony forced Luol Deng into a tough shot that he missed with 1.5 seconds to go in the fourth. Anthony got the final shot of regulation, but his shot rimmed out.
In the overtime, Robinson made on a three-point play to start the scoring and the Bulls never trailed. The Knicks shot just 3-for-11 in overtime and 11-for-42 in the last 21:51 of the game.
The Knicks were without Tyson Chandler (bulging disc in his neck) and Kenyon Martin (sprained left ankle), and had just nine available players. Only eight played. Chicago didn't have Derrick Rose (ACL), Joakim Noah (plantar fasciatis) and Taj Gibson (sprained MCL).
But these two teams have survived and thrived without key players and neither one wanted to concede anything last night.
The physical game featured three technical fouls and some jawing between Anthony and former Robinson and Anthony and Butler. Before the game, Butler called Anthony "great,'' but also said "There are ways you can get into him, try to get into his head a little bit.''
Anthony kept his cool most of the night, but the Bulls affected him with their defense.
The Knicks made 10 three-pointers, establishing an NBA record for threes in a season. They have 847, surpassing the 2009-10 Magic, which made 841.
Minus Chandler and Martin, the Knicks were forced to use Chris Copeland and Anthony at center.
The Knicks jumped out to a 23-6 lead on Pablo Prigioni's three-pointer with 5:58 left in the first quarter, but the Bulls charged back and got within two twice in the second quarter. It was 53-50 late in the half and Richard Hamilton attempted a tying three, but he misfired, leading to a Smith fastbreak dunk.
Leading by five to start the third, the Knicks opened up on a 14-4 run and took a 73-58 advantage after an Anthony jump shot with 7:01 left. Later, Anthony had a chance to put the Knicks up by 17, but missed inside with 4:23 left.
The Bulls stormed back again, outscoring the Knicks 21-3 during a 5:44 stretch over third and fourth quarters and led 85-82 after a three-pointer by Hamilton 1:35 into the fourth. It was their first lead since 2-0.
Chicago took its biggest lead, 99-90, after a Butler layup with 5:42 remaining. The Knicks came back and drew within 103-101 on a Felton floater with 1:47 to go.
After two Robinson foul shots put the Bulls up four with 1:38 left, Smith hit a short-one-hander with 1:16 left to keep the Knicks within two.