The final push to the playoffs went from worrisome to worse for the Chicago Bulls when they dropped a 109-104 loss Monday in a must-win game against the New York Knicks.
The Knicks are 11th in the Eastern Conference and 4½ games back from making the play-in tournament, offering one of the few guaranteed wins — or so it seemed — of the Bulls’ final eight-game stretch of the regular season. The trip to New York should have been a key moment for the Bulls to barricade themselves further into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
DeMar DeRozan tried his best to complete one of his authoritative fourth-quarter stands, but even his 15 points in the period weren’t enough to pull the Bulls back in front. DeRozan missed his first attempt at a game-tying basket, then picked up an offensive foul in his final chance of the game.
The Bulls seemed poised to run away in the first half, but mistakes stilted their production. Despite a haphazard shooting night for the Knicks, the Bulls’ inability to protect the ball — stepping out of bounds without contact, fouling 3-point shooters, fumbling passes into the backcourt — continued to gift their opponent with opportunities.
“We went cold and had some missed shots and missed opportunities and turnovers, and then they made a run and got back in the game,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We’ve got to be able to move past that kind of stuff from a competitive, emotional standpoint.”
The Bulls turned the ball over eight times in the first half, racking up a total of 12 turnovers while managing only 16 assists. Alex Caruso fouled out in the final two minutes of the game, highlighting a high-fouling night of frustration for the Bulls.
Alec Burks hit five 3-pointers to lead the Knicks with 27 points, but the team’s stars struggled with shooting accuracy. Julius Randle shot 1-for-9 and Evan Fournier went 2-for-10 on the night. The Knicks shot only 42.7% from the field and went 21-for-35 from the free-throw line. But the Bulls balanced this disparate shooting with blunders that allowed the Knicks leeway to retain a small lead.
The loss came right off the heels of a galvanizing win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, which afforded the Bulls a small amount of breathing room as they cling to the fifth spot in the East.
The loss set the Bulls back to where they were after the Toronto Raptors and the Cavaliers both won their games Monday, narrowing the margin in the East.
The loss deepened a 5-10 skid since the All-Star break as the Bulls flounder despite a strong start to the season. It also continued a worsening pattern of losses on the road for the Bulls, who lost nine of their last 10 games away from the United Center.
Source: Berkshire mont