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.

Bulls thankful Kris Dunn's injury wasn't worse; Zach LaVine cleared for extended minutes

Bulls thankful Kris Dunn's injury wasn't worse; Zach LaVine cleared for extended minutes

The fall was nasty and the concussion was substantial for Kris Dunn. But at second blush the Bulls are thankful it wasn’t worse.

Given the way his body jerked after Dunn released himself from the rim, the Bulls are glad he didn’t suffer a neck injury in addition to the concussion and dislocated front teeth.

“It could have been a major, major injury,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Obviously, it is a significant one with the concussion. You can't take these things lightly, but with the way that he fell and hit head first, we're really thankful that he'll be back hopefully before too long. But obviously we'll take things very cautiously, a cautious approach with this because of how significant concussions are. But hopefully we'll get him back soon.”

Dunn has braces on the front teeth to stabilize them, and Hoiberg said he’ll see the doctor every day over the next several days, per the league's concussion protocol. There’s a chance Dunn could join the Bulls on the three-game road trip, but he’ll miss at least Saturday’s game in Atlanta. The Bulls travel to New Orleans on Monday and Philadelphia on Wednesday.

It’s the second freak injury Dunn has suffered this season, in addition to dislocating his finger in the preseason. He struggled with it initially upon returning but recently had shown no signs of issues with it.

Dealing with a concussion and also a mouth injury makes things more complicated as far as his playing style. He plays aggressive and fast, bordering on recklessness occasionally.

Hoiberg doesn’t believe that will change when Dunn returns.

“I don't think it's going to change the way Kris plays,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously it was very unfortunate in the timing because he had a couple of really good plays there to get things really turned in our favor and get the momentum going down the stretch and they get a called timeout and get a layup out of it right away. Then we still had our chances late in that game. Kris was responsible as anybody for getting that game to striking distance. Unfortunately, we just couldn't make the plays we needed to to get the win.”

The more conservative style of Jerian Grant will take over in Dunn’s absence. Grant has been steady as a backup, averaging 7.6 points and 4.6 assists. Unlike Dunn, though, Grant hasn’t had issues with turnovers, at a four-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio this year.

Teams will dare Grant to beat them from the outside, as he’s missed 15 of his 16 3-point attempts this month.

“I've been here before, so I'm prepared. I've started a lot of games so far in my career, so I'm ready for it,” Grant said. “The last time I started, we got a win. I did what I had to do so I'm prepared to do whatever we need to do to get a win.”

Where Grant will receive relief is from Zach LaVine getting clearance for more minutes, as he’ll play in the fourth quarters and will have his minute-restriction increased to 24 minutes.

LaVine will likely play some point guard during stretches, and is shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range in the small sample size of three games and 19.7 minutes.

“We're not going to overextend him right now because he's still obviously very early in the process as far as getting back on the floor and getting in game shape,” Hoiberg said. “We don't want to get him fatigued out there so we'll keep his rotation stretches short. But wee will hopefully have him available some in the fourth quarter to give us what Kris does down the stretch, who's been as good as anybody on our team as far as helping out close games.”

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