- Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Knicks, 0-2 against the Bulls so far this season, trail Chicago at halftime Friday night, 57-36, at Madison Square Garden. The Bulls jumped out in front early, taking a 15-point lead in the first quarter, and leading 29-18 after one.
Chicago extended its lead to 22, 46-24, midway through the second quarter, prompting boos from the Garden crowd. The boos got louder when a Luol Deng bucket gave the Bulls their largest lead, 57-32, just before halftime.
Here are three observations at the half:
RUSTY MELO? Carmelo Anthony returned to the lineup for the Knicks after serving his one-game suspension Thursday night. Anthony was averaging an NBA-best 9.6 points in the first quarter, but came out ice-cold Friday night. He missed his first seven shots before converting a layup late in the first quarter.
Anthony finished the first half with a team-high 10 points, but shot just 4-for-14 from the field. Could it be rust? Then again, Anthony shot just 6-for-26 in his last game against the Celtics on Monday.
TIRED LEGS? The Knicks are 4-3 in the second game of back-to-backs so far this season, but they look a step slower than the Bulls, who last played on Wednesday. As a team, the Knicks shot 14-for-47 from the field in the first half (29.8 percent). The Bulls, on the other hand, shot 23-for-40 (57.5 percent).
Deng, the Bulls' leading scorer this season (17.4 ppg) with Derrick Rose still sidelined by a knee injury, played a brilliant first half. Deng already has 21 points, on 9-for-12 shooting, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. He also played very good defense on Anthony in the first half, forcing him into some tough shots.
NATE'S REVENGE: Former Knick Nate Robinson annoyed the Garden crowd when he did Steve Novak's "Discount Double Check" move, twice, after burying jump shots in the first half. The fans booed Robinson -- but not nearly as loud as they booed the Knicks, after such a poor first-half performance.