CHICAGO - Eventually you would have expected the Knicks to take one to the basket. Maybe two. But all that seemed to be on their minds was threes.
The result was a two of another kind - as in consecutive losses following what appeared to be a promising four-game winning streak - after a maddening 98-89 loss here last night to the Bulls, who have been playing like a team waiting for coach Vinny Del Negro to get fired.
The Knicks took a franchise-record 47 three-point attempts, which eclipsed the previous mark of 41 taken on Oct. 31 against the 76ers. It fell just two shots short of the NBA record of 49 set by the Dallas Mavericks in 1995-96. They took 29 threes in the first half, which was an NBA record for a half.
Though it was clearly way too many treys to chuck in one game, the bigger issue was that only 14 of them went in. What was worse is the Knicks shot 36 percent from the field in the game and attempted just 16 free throws.
And yet there were no regrets afterward.
"We're not going to go away from it," said Chris Duhon, who had 18 points and seven assists and was 5-for-10 from downtown. "We're going to keep shooting it. If we're open, we shoot it. We didn't shoot a great percentage tonight and that was pretty much the difference tonight."
Luol Deng had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bulls (9-16), who attempted just nine treys in the game and made three.
Mike D'Antoni, who gave the bulk of the minutes to just six players, wasn't as upset with the over-emphasis on perimeter shooting.
"Some were good," the coach said of the shot selection, "and some were just jacked up."
Most of them were actually open looks and the result of the Knicks' offense getting nothing out of their trademark pick-and-roll play, which was defended well by guards Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons and long-armed big-man Joakim Noah.
"They were really packing it in and kind of wanting us to shoot it outside," Duhon said. "That's what we practice every day. We just didn't make shots."
They didn't make any at all through an awful drought in the second quarter, when they missed 15 straight from downtown. Then in the fourth quarter, after Gallinari nailed a three to give the Knicks a 79-75 lead with 8:35 left, they missed five straight from beyond the arc while the Bulls ripped off a 10-0 run to take control of the game.
This one might be more confounding than the meltdown Tuesday in Charlotte. The Knicks were off to a great start early in this game with a 17-point lead that evaporated like the weight off Eddy Curry's body. And Curry was literally in the middle of the collapse, as he entered the game with the team leading 33-16 and D'Antoni calling for regular post-ups for the big man.
It seemed like the Knicks weren't even trying to hide the fact that they wanted to showcase Curry, who struggled (0-for-2, one offensive foul in three minutes). But what was more concerning was how the performance did little to improve Curry's trade value than the impact it clearly had on the rest of the team. From that point forward, the Knicks' offense lost its mojo.
"We got out of our rhythm," D'Antoni said, "and we were never able to get back into it."