Bulls 87, Knicks 81

Preview | Box Score | Recap

CHICAGO (AP)—The New York Knicks had everything to play for. The Chicago Bulls had little to shoot for except a 20th victory.

“This time of the year when you play non-playoff teams, they play loose, and sometimes when one’s loose and one’s got a lot on the line, you get an outcome you don’t expect,” the Knicks’ Vin Baker said.

That’s what happened Saturday night when the Bulls beat the short-handed Knicks 87-81, sealing the win on Jamal Crawford’s jumper with 3.6 seconds to go.

“The season didn’t go how we wanted,” Crawford said. “We’re playing spoiler in some says. You know Toronto and New York need these wins to secure spots in the playoffs.”

Crawford and Eddy Curry had 25 points each. Curry followed up his season-high 28-point effort Friday night against the Raptors by making his first seven shots, finishing 9-of-11 from the field and grabbing 14 rebounds.

“This is probably the first time I was able to go out there and score lot of points and get a lot of rebounds and we actually won the game,” Curry said. “My stats actually meant something.”

Kurt Thomas paced the Knicks with 17 points.

New York, dropping a half-game behind Miami for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, not only played without injured guard Allan Houston, but lost Tim Thomas to a groin strain after the first quarter.

“This team understands the sense of urgency we have. Shooting 38 percent is what hurt us. That and losing Tim hurt us,” Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens said.

The Knicks trailed by 14 in the third quarter before rallying. Michael Sweetney’s inside basket gave the Knicks their first lead, 71-70, and DerMarr Johnson scored for a three-point margin.

Curry had an offensive rebound and putback and hit two free throws in the final 1:22 to keep the Bulls in front. After a jumper by Kurt Thomas cut the deficit to two with 26 seconds to go, the Bulls worked the clock, and Crawford dribbled to the corner and sealed the win by arching in his jumper over two defenders.

The Knicks were supposed to foul quickly before the Bulls ran off so much time, but it never happened.

“We yelled for Shandon (Anderson) to foul when they were coming up the court. They just didn’t hear me,” Wilkens said.

“There was a lot of noise out there and it really messed up the situation,” Anderson said. “We should have fouled but didn’t.”

Curry hit all five of his first-quarter attempts to help Chicago jump to a nine-point lead. The Bulls shot 57 percent in the first half and Curry was 6-for-6 as Chicago led 50-40.

Curry dunked to start the second half to go 7-for-7 and didn’t miss a shot until another dunk attempt failed later in the third quarter with the Bulls up 10.

Chicago increased the lead to 14 before Anderson’s driving basket and 3-pointer highlighted a 15-5 Knicks run that cut it to 67-64 with a quarterremaining.

Notes

Houston missed his second straight game with a bruised quadriceps. Anderson started in his place . … Tim Thomas scored eight points in his 12 first-quarter minutes. … The Bulls won 30 games last season. … Penny Hardaway had 11 points and 11 rebounds for New York. Stephon Marbury shot just 4-for-18 in scoring 10 points. … Curry also had four blocks, and his reboundstied a season high.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New York
A. Hardaway A. Hardaway
4-11,  11 Pts
11 Rebs, 6 Assists
 Chicago
J. Crawford J. Crawford
10-20,  25 Pts
6 Rebs, 9 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists