After 2 1/2 months of waiting, Danilo Gallinari made the first two field goals of his career in his last game. The New York Knicks don’t expect it to take as long for the next two baskets from their top pick.
Gallinari looks to build off his first appearance since the opening week of the season when the Knicks host the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
New York (15-24) selected Gallinari sixth overall in the 2008 draft after the 20-year-old led his Italian team with 17.5 points per game and averaged 5.7 rebounds.
He hasn’t had nearly the same impact with the Knicks.
After playing 11 total minutes in New York’s first two games of the season, Gallinari missed the next 36 because of a sore lower back. He returned to the lineup in Saturday’s 107-97 loss to Philadelphia, and finished with six points in 15 minutes.
“As you play more minutes you get more comfortable,” Gallinari said. “You feel more confidence in the game.”
The 6-foot-10 forward started the second quarter and played the next four minutes. He made his first NBA field goal on a 3-pointer to a loud ovation.
“We’re very happy to see Gallo out there, and we are happy with the reception he got from the fans here,” Quentin Richardson said. “It’s really good for him. He’s a good kid and we are all excited for him.”
In addition to getting Gallinari comfortable on the court, the Knicks would also like to break out of their funk, as they’ve lost two straight games and 12 of 16.
Starting point guard Chris Duhon had just five points and five assists on Saturday after averaging 13.3 points and 8.7 assists in his previous three games. Duhon, who spent the past four seasons with the Bulls (18-23), had 15 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds in New York’s 105-100 loss at Chicago on Dec. 9 in his first game against his former team.
The Knicks haven’t had much success against the Bulls lately, losing 12 of the last 16 meetings.
After winning its previous two games, Chicago is coming off Saturday’s 92-87 loss to San Antonio.
The Bulls had another solid defensive effort, but their offense was held to their fourth-lowest point total of the season. Chicago has allowed an average of 94.3 points in its last three games, and is 10-2 when allowing 95 points or fewer this season.
“I thought we played good enough to win,” said Andres Nocioni, who had 17 points and a season-high 15 rebounds. “But that’s the way we have to play every night. The last four games we played together and with much more effort.”
Ben Gordon, who is averaging a team-high 20.2 points, had 20 on Saturday after scoring a season-low five in Thursday’s 102-93 overtime victory over Cleveland. Gordon, who grew up just outside of New York City, has scored 25 or more points in three of his last five trips to Madison Square Garden.
This will be Derrick Rose’s first NBA game at MSG.
The top overall pick of the 2008 draft finished with 12 points on just 6-of-21 shooting on Saturday, but did have eight assists. Rose had 15 points and seven assists in the Bulls’ win over the Knicks in December.