Bulls

Bulls look for 61st win of season vs. Knicks

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Bulls look for 61st win of season vs. Knicks

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Posted: 9:45 a.m.

(AP) -- The Chicago Bulls are enjoying a memorable season, having already clinched the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed while also reaching the 60-win mark.

None of their victories, however, have come over the New York Knicks.

In a matchup of two teams riding seven-game winning streaks, the Bulls look to avoid being swept by the Knicks in a season series for the first time in 11 years Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Chicago (60-20) secured the East's top seed Friday and is one game back of West-leading San Antonio for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wants his team to make a run for the NBA's best record and isn't planning on resting his stars.

READ: Gibson seizing opportunity down the stretch

Thibodeau, who has a reputation of demanding perfection from his players, would probably also like to see his team prove it can beat New York.

The Knicks (42-38) can clinch the East's sixth seed with one more victory or a Philadelphia loss. They own the tiebreaker with the 76ers but have a much tougher remaining schedule. While Philadelphia concludes the season Wednesday at home against Detroit, New York visits Boston.

The Knicks are in position to sweep the season series from the Bulls for the first time since 1999-2000, but much has changed since they last met on Christmas.

This will be Carmelo Anthony's first game with New York against Chicago, and the Bulls expect to finally be at full strength. Carlos Boozer sat out the first meeting, a 120-112 home loss Nov. 4, and Joakim Noah was sidelined in a 103-95 defeat at MSG on Dec. 25.

The Knicks might be short-handed this time, though.

Amare Stoudemire, who averages 25.4 points and a team-best 8.2 rebounds, has sat out the last two games with a sprained left ankle and is listed as questionable. If Stoudemire can't go, New York could have trouble on the glass against a Bulls team that ranks second in the league with 44.1 boards per game.

Although Stoudemire has been sidelined, the Knicks still extended their winning streak Sunday with a 110-109 victory in Indiana.
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New York, which had lost six in a row prior to this run, trailed by 11 early in the fourth quarter and was down by six with 3:31 remaining before scoring the game's final seven points. Anthony had 34 points, made the go-ahead jumper with 4.9 seconds left and blocked a potential winning attempt by Danny Granger.

"It was a big game for us confidence-wise," said Anthony, averaging 31.5 points in his last eight games after averaging 22.2 in his previous nine. "Coming down the stretch, finishing out the regular season with some good momentum, trying to make a big push."

The Bulls are also hoping to enter the playoffs heading in the right direction and are eager to put together a crisper effort following Sunday's 102-99 win over Orlando, which was without Dwight Howard.

Chicago, winner of 19 of 21, shot 60.0 percent but turned the ball over 21 times, one shy of matching a season high set against the Knicks on Christmas.

Derrick Rose bailed the Bulls out by scoring 11 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter. He also made all 10 of his free throws.

"We continue to let teams come back," said Rose, who has reached the 30-point mark in three of his last five games. "It's going to hurt us if we continue to do this. We've got to learn how to put teams away."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

Los Angeles—Lauri Markkanen called himself “The Finnisher” when asked what the movie of his life would be called.

Apparently, that moniker didn’t apply to the All-Star Skills challenge as he took down the best big men but couldn’t close against a former Bull, Spencer Dinwiddie, in the final.

The contest highlights players’ ability to dribble around cones shaped like NBA logos, throwing a chest pass into a net while having to complete a layup and then 3-pointer before their opponent does.

Markkanen took down Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid before facing off with Dinwiddie. He held a pose after hitting a triple to beat the uber confident Embiid, in what will likely be used as a memorable gif following the weekend.

His confidence doesn’t come across as blatantly as Embiid’s, but that snapshot shows he’s no humble star in the making. He didn’t even practice for the contest, by his own admission.

“I heard some of the guys did,” Markkanen said. “I didn’t do much, just before the competition, I did a little warm-up.”

Missing on the first pass attempt into the circular net in the final, it gave Dinwiddie the advantage he wouldn’t relinquish, hitting on his second 3-point attempt before Markkanen could make it downcourt to contest.

“It’s a lot harder than I’ve seen,” Markkanen said. “I thought it was gonna be super easy but it was kind of tough. Maybe I need to hold my follow through (on the pass).”

“I saw he missed (the first shot) and I started going. I thought he would’ve missed it too. I think I would’ve gotten it on the third shot.”

Being one of the multi-dimensional big men in today’s game who can be adept on the perimeter as well as the interior, it almost seems like the contest was made for Markkanen. Although he doesn’t do much handling in Fred Hoiberg’s offense, it’s clearly a skill he will develop as time goes on.

The last two winners of the skills challenge were Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, and Markkanen was well aware of the recent trend.

“The last two years the bigs have won,” Markkanen said. “I’m kind of pissed that I couldn’t keep the streak going after (those two). I think there’s a lot of guys who can do that now, it’s why they changed the format to bigs versus smalls.”

For Dinwiddie, who was discarded by the Bulls last season after a promising start in the preseason so they could pick up R.J. Hunter, he’s taken advantage of an opportunity with Brooklyn.

“I think for Chicago it was just another series of unfortunate events,” he said. “They were in win-now mode. I was an unproven guard on a non-guaranteed contract and they felt Michael Carter-Williams gave them a better shot to win.”

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

This is part of a four-part series looking back at the historic career of Michael Jordan and the legacy he left on the game of basketball. It all leads up to Saturday when we unveil his top 5 moments on his 55th birthday. Here are 55-4544-23, and 22-6.

5. Jordan wins fourth title and finishes greatest individual season ever, June 16, 1996

It’s hard to comprehend just how much Jordan accomplished during the 1995-96 season. We’ll try:He won his fourth championship, was named NBA Finals MVP for a record fourth time, won All-Star Game MVP, won a record 72 games, was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, was the league’s leading scorer and became the Bulls’ all-time leader in games played. So when he dropped a casual 22 points in Game 6, it marked the end of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. Oh, and Space Jam came out a few months later.
 
4. Jordan hits six triples, scores 35 points in first half against Blazers, June 3, 1992

During the 1991-92 regular season, Jordan never made more than three 3-pointers in a single game. In fact, the most 3-pointers he had in any two-game stretch that year was four. So when he began burying triple after triple in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, even Jordan couldn’t believe it, giving a shrug toward the NBC announcers as if to say, “I don’t know, either.” Jordan finished the first half with six triples and scored an NBA-record 35 points. The Bulls cruised in the second half, so Jordan finished with only 39, but his shrug remains one of the most iconic NBA Finals moments in history.
 
3. Jordan battles the flu, scores 38 in Game 5 on his way to fifth title, June 11, 1997

The Flu Game. Jordan was battling a nasty illness in the lead-up to a pivotal Game 5 in Utah, and there were concerns about whether he would even suit up. Hours before tip Jordan got out of bed and made his way to the arena, looking to halt Utah’s momentum after it had taken Games 3 and 4 to tie the series. The Jazz came out red-hot while Jordan looked sluggish, but he responded with 17 points in the second quarter alone to give the Bulls a halftime lead. Jordan then keyed a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to erase a Jazz lead, and he hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to give the Bulls a three-point lead. The Bulls hung on, and Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms walking off the floor. His final line? 38 points, 13 of 27 shooting, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Two days later the Bulls won the title in front of a sellout Chicago crowd.

2. Jordan scores 63 points against Celtics in playoff loss, April 20, 1986

Jordan had just turned 23 years old when he took to the Boston Garden floor to face Larry Bird in his prime and the Celtics. These Celtics had gone 40-1 at home, led the NBA in field goal percentage defense, started FOUR future Hall of Famers and had a fifth come off the bench. They would ultimately go down as one of the all-time greatest teams, and Jordan made them look absolutely silly. He played 50 minutes in the double-overtime thriller, shooting 22 of 41 from the field and making 19 of 21 free throws, including the last two with no time on the clock and the Bulls trailing by two at the end of regulation. He scored 54 in regulation, added five in the first overtime and four in the second. He also led the Bulls with six assists. It still stands as the NBA record for most points in any playoff game. Twenty-three years old. Twenty. Three.

1. Jordan scores 45 in final game with the Bulls, securing sixth championship, June 14, 1998

Jordan’s final game with the Bulls was iconic. Like so many of these moments, die hards know exactly where they were. The 45 points were majestic, and while he only had one rebound and one assist he affected just about every possession on both ends. But what we’ll remember most is the final 37 seconds. Jordan drove to the basket for layup that cut Utah’s lead to one, then stripped Karl Malone from behind on the next trip down. That gave the ball back to the Bulls with 20 seconds left. Jordan let the clock tick down to around 9 seconds before making his move from the left wing, driving right on Bryon Russell, (maybe pushing off) and pulling up for a jumper at the foul line. The shot was good with 5.2 seconds remaining, and John Stockton’s ensuing 3-pointer was off the mark. It gave Jordan and the Bulls their sixth NBA title, and marked the perfect ending to his Bulls career: getting it done on both ends, in the clutch, and finishing with a victory. Because it encapsulated so much of his 14-year career in Chicago, it’s our top Michael Jordan moment.