- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: Rip Hamilton had his best game in weeks, scoring 20 points -- 18 in the third quarter -- dishing out five assists and grabbing four rebounds. What makes it even more impressive is that Hamilton only played 20 minutes and didn't play in the fourth quarter. Luol Deng added 19 points while Kyle Korver had 14 points and three blocks off the bench.
What it means: The Bulls atoned for their poor performance on Sunday afternoon by getting back to basics. They defended much better and dominated the boards most of the night. Most importantly, they allowed Carmelo Anthony (29 points) to get his and shut everybody else down for the most part. The Bulls' bench mob did what they had to do and changed the momentum of the game several times. They outscored the Knicks' bench 33-18.
The best sign for the Bulls moving forward is that without Derrick Rose, Hamilton finally showed how dangerous he could be in short spurts. The Knicks could not slow him down in the third quarter, and he was able to open up the floor for the rest of his teammates. Tom Thibodeau has said over the past week that he would like to start getting more time for Hamilton on the floor, but he played just 20 minutes yet again. It will be interesting to see if and when Thibodeau decides to start sticking with the veteran shooting guard more. If he continues to play like he did on Tuesday night, and stays healthy, the Bulls are in good shape.
Stats of the night: Rebounds: 51-33 Bulls. Second-chance points: 25-5 Bulls.
Bold play of the game: Hamilton's performance in the third quarter gave the Bulls the boost they needed without Rose in the lineup.
What's next: The Bulls have a showdown with the Miami Heat on Thursday night.