- Kieran Darcy, ESPNNewYork.com
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NEW YORK -- A quick take on the Knicks' 103-90 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden:
WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks see their seven-game winning streak snapped and drop to 42-39 with one game remaining in the regular season. It's the Knicks' first loss to the Bulls -- the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference -- after a pair of wins in November and December (prior to the Carmelo Anthony trade.) But the Knicks were already locked into the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and were missing star forward Amare Stoudemire, who sat out his third straight game with a sprained left ankle.
The Bulls win their eighth in a row, improve to 61-20, and are a half-game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the league and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
THE SKINNY: The first half was a tight affair, for the most part. The Knicks led 27-24 after one quarter, and took their biggest lead of the half, 40-31, with 7:52 remaining in the second on a Toney Douglas floater. The Bulls bounced back to take a 52-50 lead -- their largest of the first half. But the Knicks took a 55-52 advantage into the locker room. Anthony paced the Knicks with 15 points, on 6-for-10 shooting. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 12 points.
The second half was a whole 'nother story, as the Bulls outscored the Knicks 26-2 over the first seven minutes of the third quarter, taking a 78-57 lead. The Bulls looked re-energized, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, while the Knicks looked flat, turning the ball over and settling for tough shots. The Knicks did cut it to 84-73 at the end of the third quarter and to 84-78 early in the fourth -- but that's as close as things got. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni did not push to win this game in the fourth quarter -- the Bulls extended the lead back out while Anthony and Chauncey Billups were on the bench, and soon after those two got back in there, the deficit was too great and they headed back to the pine.
STAR WATCH: For the Knicks, Anthony finished with a team-high 21, but only six of those came after intermission. Bill Walker chipped in 18 off the bench -- 16 of them coming in the second half. Billups had 10 points and eight assists.
For Chicago, Derrick Rose was much more aggressive in the second half, pouring in 16 of his game-high 26 points after the break, shooting 10-for-19 from the floor. Deng had 23 points and 10 rebounds. And Carlos Boozer added 14 points and 22 rebounds.
NUMBER CRUNCH: The Bulls came in No. 2 in the NBA in rebounding (44.1 per game), and they had a 51-33 edge on the glass on Tuesday night. Also, the Knicks shot just 8-for-31 from beyond the 3-point arc (25.8 percent).
WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks will play in Boston on Wednesday night to wrap up the 2010-11 regular season. Look for the Knicks to give their stars plenty of rest, considering they'll be battling the Celtics in the playoffs starting over the weekend.
The Bulls will host the Nets on Wednesday night to wrap up their regular season.
35mMatt Walks, ESPN.com
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