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Knicks drop heartbreaker in loss to Bulls, DeMar DeRozan sinks game-winner

The Knicks gave themselves plenty to complain about on Festivus.

An epic collapse finished on the Seinfeld holiday when Tom Thibodeau’s squad missed four straight free throws in the final minute, allowing the Chicago Bulls to steal a 118-117 victory at the Garden and spoil RJ Barrett’s exquisite evening.

DeMar DeRozan nailed the game-winning jumper over Quentin Grimes with about 0.4 seconds remaining, which followed two missed foul shots from usually-clutch Jalen Brunson. Grimes also missed his free throws with 66 seconds left. Those could’ve given the Knicks a five-point lead.

As the temperature plummeted outside, Barrett’s shooting hand kept the Garden warm. The small forward finished with a season-high 44 points — two shy of his career mark — and nailed a runner in the lane with 29 seconds left that would’ve been the winner had Brunson converted his ensuing foul shots.

Barrett’s highlight occurred with about six minutes remaining in the third quarter, when he  drove past DeRozan and finished a one-handed jam over center Nikola Vucevic. The and-one conversion gave Barrett 34 points —already a season-high at that point — and the Knicks carried the momentum for much of the night.

Barrett shot 14-for-20, including 6-for-6 from beyond the arc. The crowd chanted his name in the third quarter.

But it was all wasted. The Knicks (18-15) have now dropped two straight after their eight-game winning streak.

Zach LaVine dropped 33 points and DeRozan added 25 for the Bulls (14-18).

It was the third time in the last week that the Knicks faced the Bulls, a quirk in the NBA schedule. The Knicks won the first two games in Chicago behind Brunson, who attended high school in Illinois and savored the homecoming.

The script flipped at MSG but the Bulls, regardless of the impressive comeback, remain a mess. They were assembled at a high price for quick contention but have underwhelmed all season. Player confrontations and blow ups were reported from Chicago’s locker room, which added to the growing sense that either LaVine orDeRozan will ultimately be traded.

LaVine, 27, an All-Star the last two seasons, is considered a borderline franchise star but has never advanced out of the first round of the playoffs — and only made the playoffs once in his nine seasons.

The Knicks still have the draft capital to acquire LaVine after missing Donovan Mitchell, so there’s interest from team president Leon Rose in the Bulls’ direction.

The Knicks returned to the lineup Grimes, who missed the previous contest with a sprained ankle. Grimes’ absence was felt in Wednesday’s loss to the Raptors, who got 52 points from Pascal Siakam while snapping the Knicks eight-game winning streak.

Grimes started and logged 36 minutes against the Bulls, but missed the clutch foul shots and couldn’t stop DeRozan on Chicago’s game-winner.

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Source: Berkshire mont

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