Knicks 101, Bulls 96

Preview | Box Score | Recap

CHICAGO (AP)—It took the New York Knicks two minutes to take control of the game.

Keith Van Horn scored 16 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks improved to 2-0 under new coach Lenny Wilkens with a 101-96 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.

“I knew we were down and the team needed me to do something,” Van Horn said. “Lenny wanted me to keep shooting, and I was going to. Fortunately, that fourth quarter, I got it together.”

Allan Houston led the Knicks with 26 points, scoring all but three in the first half. Stephon Marbury added 18 points and eight rebounds for New York, which has won three straight.

The tumultuous last few weeks seemed to take a toll on the Knicks in the third quarter, when they made just three shots and went the last five minutes without a field goal. They trailed 75-68 going into the fourth quarter.

But Van Horn went on a tear, shifting the momentum quickly. He started with a rebound tip-in, and followed it with a 3-pointer. Marbury made a 3, and New York had a 76-75 lead—two minutes into the fourth quarter.

And Van Horn wasn’t finished. He made back-to-back 3-pointers and then hit a short jumper to give New York an 84-77 lead. The Bulls never threatened again.

“We’ve just got to finish games,” said Jamal Crawford, who had a team-high 20 points. “Honestly, if I knew, we’d be doing it. We played well for 42 minutes. The six minutes we didn’t, it killed us.”

Having Eddy Curry disappear in the second half didn’t help, either. Curry finished with 20 points, but 19 came in the first half, when he was 9-of-11. He took just two shots in the second half.

The loss dropped the Bulls to 12-28. While they’re only six games behind Philadelphia for the eighth spot in the playoffs, their chances of making the postseason for the first time since the dynasty days shrinks with every loss.

“I kind of worry it’ll be too late when we do come out of it,” Curry said. “It can get real ugly, real fast. It’s already starting to get ugly.”

Especially on nights like this. The Bulls got off to a quick start, making their first eight shots and nine of 10 on their way to a 19-11 lead. This seemed to be the perfect time to get the Knicks, too. New York was playing the second half of a back-to-back, and its fourth game in six days.

The Knicks have seen more drama than a soap opera in recent weeks, too. It was at fever pitch this week with the is-he-or-isn’t-he drama of Don Chaney’s job status. Chaney was finally fired Wednesday, and replaced by Wilkens.

“I was tired,” Van Horn said. “I was just trying to fight through it and get a good five-, six- or seven-minute stretch where I was able to get the ball.”

Each time Chicago built a cushion, the Knicks fought back. And when the Bulls had a chance to put the game away in the fourth quarter, they fell apart. They made just one field goal in the first seven minutes while New York went on a 16-2 run.

Chicago was outscored 33-21 in the final period.

“We had some good moments again,” coach Scott Skiles said. “But wecouldn’t sustain it.”

Notes

Marbury’s streak of double-digit assists ended at five games. … New York snapped a five-game losing streak at the United Center. … Knicks C Dikembe Mutombo’s two blocks gave him 2,956 for his career, giving him sole possession of fourth place on the all-time list. He had been tied with David Robinson with 2,954. … Bulls C Tyson Chandler said his back feels fine, now he just has to work himself into playing shape. “Everything about me coming back right now is about me conditioning,” Chandler said. “It takes all of training camp to get into condition, but I don’t have that kind of luxury.” Chandler has been on the injured list since Dec. 1 with a sore lower back, and has played only 11 games this season. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “I wantto be on the court.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New York
K. Thomas K. Thomas
5-12,  12 Pts
13 Rebs, 3 Assists
 Chicago
E. Curry E. Curry
9-13,  20 Pts
10 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists