CHICAGO — Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were back at the United Center and reminded their old fans what they can do when they’re healthy. Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis reminded the Knicks that he needs to be a focal point of the offense.
The Knicks bounced back from two poor defensive performances and put forth their most impressive game of the season last night. With Rose and Noah clearly fired up, the Knicks took down the Bulls, 117-104.
“I’m not going to lie — it felt great,” Noah said. “Everybody came with the right mindset. Derrick was doing what he does, just floor general, making great plays for everybody. We’re still trying to find ourselves as a team. But I’m not going to lie. This one felt really good.”
Said Rose, “I’m just happy we got the win, man.”
When they left the game with 28.1 seconds left, Noah pounded Rose in the chest. Rose smiled and kept slapping Noah in the head. “We love winning,” Rose said. “That’s the key. Winning is everything for us two.”
Rose was explosive going to the basket and Noah was a presence inside. They also showed the chemistry they built while playing together with the Bulls for eight years as each had his best all-around game as a Knick.
Rose had 15 points, a season-high 11 assists and seven rebounds. He totaled 10 assists in the first four games. Noah had 16 points and nine rebounds.
The Knicks (2-3) made a concerted effort to get Porzingis involved offensively after he went without a field goal in Wednesday night’s blowout loss to Houston. Porzingis had 27 points, Carmelo Anthony 25 and Courtney Lee 17 as all five Knicks starters scored in double figures.
Rose downplayed having extra motivation, but after making a short jumper, he waved his fingers in a come-on motion. He said he was being heckled.
With the Knicks up six late in the game, Rose drove, scored and converted the three-point play to make it 111-102. He also assisted on the Knicks’ next basket, a three-pointer by Anthony that made it a 10-point game.
“I’m just trying to win, man,” Rose said. “When I played that revenge type of game or I paid somebody back, that’s when I always fail. My type of game is coming out here and just playing the way I normally naturally know how to play, and that’s to win. So coming out here, I was just trying to win the game, and that’s what we ended up doing.”
Dwyane Wade had 35 points and 10 rebounds and Jimmy Butler scored 26 for Chicago (3-2).
Rose and Noah had never been on the visiting team in this building. The Bulls traded Rose to the Knicks in June and had no intention of re-signing Noah, who signed a four-year, $72-million free-agent deal. Noah said he had been thinking about this game “for a long time” and that keeping his emotions in check was “harder than I thought.”
The fans cheered Noah loudly during introductions, but some booed Rose when he was introduced or when he touched the ball. Both were cheered during a nice first-quarter tribute video.
“I watched some of it, but Jo was telling me to stay focused,” Rose said. “So I listened to my big brother at that time.’’
The Knicks went ahead 22-6 but allowed 42 points in a 13:20 stretch as the Bulls took a 48-44 lead. Porzingis had seven points as the Knicks scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to go ahead by 13. The lead grew to 98-83 on Noah’s two free throws with 6:04 left.
“When you go through a couple of games when you don’t play very well, you need one like this to turn it around,” Jeff Hornacek said. “We played our guys a lot of minutes, but we needed a win.”