By Josh Newman
NEW YORK - For a brief time Saturday night against the New York Knicks, it appeared the Chicago Bulls would show no ill-effects of playing four overtimes Friday night, followed by a middle-of-the-night flight and arriving at the team hotel at 4:15 a.m.
Those hopes turned out to be short-lived.
The Bulls raced out to a 12-2 at the 9:25 mark of the first quarter, but the Knicks swiftly erased that, led by seven after one, as many as 15 in the first half, and cruised to a 107-91 win in front of a sellout crowd of 19,812 at Madison Square Garden.
“You can’t completely write this one off (on travel),” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We got back to having a very stagnant game. We didn’t get the ball moving with the exception of when we got up 12-2. We had great pace, the ball was moving and after that, we got back to standing and stagnant.”
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After winning the first four games of a five-game homestand, the Bulls have now dropped consecutive games, including Friday night’s 147-144 quadruple-overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons. In that Friday loss, Jimmy Butler played 56 minutes, Derrick Rose 54 and Pau Gasol 48. Gasol did not accompany the team to New York.
With Gasol out, Joakim Noah stood out as one of the Bulls’ few bright spots, finishing with 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting to along with 10 rebounds in his first start of the season. Noah had scored just 88 total points over his first 23 games.
“Games like this, you have to stick to your principles, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Noah said. “It felt good to play, especially back home, but I’m disappointed that we lost.”
Butler and Rose, two of the Bulls’ three leading scorers, combined for just 18 points on 7-for-21 shooting.
The Knicks were paced by a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds from Carmelo Anthony as they shot 50 percent from the field. The Bulls shot 39.4 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range.