Derrick Rose showed why he's the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player. With 32 points and 13 assists, he captivated the Madison Square Garden crowd and produced the kind of reactions from the fans that only the truly special players can.
But Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony had chances to elicit the biggest reaction of the night.
Each missed a tying three-pointer in the closing seconds of the Knicks' 105-102 loss to the Bulls Thursday night. The Knicks battled the Eastern Conference leaders to the last second but still lost for the 10th time in 12 games to drop to 8-14.
"They're a good overall team," Tyson Chandler said. "I thought we handled them well. I thought we should have won. A few breaks go our way and it's a different conversation in this locker room."
This was the start of the Knicks' only back-to-back-to-back of this lockout-shortened season. They play in Boston Friday night and face the Nets at the Garden Saturday night.
The Knicks expended so much energy against Chicago that one wonders how much they'll have left for those games. But the Knicks left the building encouraged that they came back from an 11-turnover second quarter and turned a 13-point second-quarter deficit into a one-possession game at the end.
He missed a free throw with 5.3 seconds left that enabled Anthony to be in position for a potential tying three-pointer from 33 feet just before the buzzer, but Rose dominated this game. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Bulls to their 19th win in 25 games.
Stoudemire had a season-high 34 points, shooting 16-for-27, and pulled down 11 rebounds. Anthony, who Thursday was voted to start for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game, added 26 points. But he shot 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter en route to a 10-for-26 night and had two layups blocked in the last 2:25.
The Knicks never erased the 13-point hole, but they got within one on a layup by Landry Fields (17 points) with 23.4 seconds left. The Knicks intentionally fouled Kyle Korver with 13.7 seconds to play and he hit both free throws to make it 103-100.
During the timeout, coach Mike D'Antoni drew up a play for Stoudemire, who had the hot hand. He was open, but his three-point shot from straightaway hit the back rim. There was 11.9 seconds left when he took the shot, but the Knicks said the time wasn't an issue. They got the shot they wanted.
"I know we had a lot of time left," Stoudemire said. "Coach explained if I'm open, shoot it. I was open. That shot normally falls for me.''
The Knicks had one last shot to tie it. Anthony thought the Bulls were going to foul him to prevent a three-pointer, but they didn't. He ultimately attempted a long shot from the right wing that fell short.
"We played extremely hard," Anthony said. "We got to pat ourselves on the back for something."