Gordon scored 16 points and hit the game-winner with 5.8 seconds left in Chicago’s 92-91 win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night as the Bulls locked up home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Chicago will open its first playoff appearance since 1998 against Washington, which lost any chance for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference by losing at New Jersey.
Gordon hit a 16-foot jumper over Jermaine Jackson with 5.8 seconds left, and Jamal Crawford missed an 18-footer that would have won it for New York. Gordon’s first thought was to drive the lane, but he decided to pull up when he saw the Knicks’ post players coming to help.
“I knew I had to get to my spot,” said Gordon. “I knew it was going to go in. I knew I was going to get the last bucket and make the shot.”
Gordon was carried off the court in celebration by Bulls center Tyson Chandler.
“He is the type of a player that steps up in those situations,” Chandler said.
Gordon, who grew up a Knicks fan and attended Mount Vernon high school, is making a trend of hitting big shots against New York.
It was the second time this season that Gordon hit a game-winner against the Knicks in the closing seconds. He scored 13 of 17 points in the fourth quarter and hit the game-winning shot with 0.1 seconds to play in Chicago’s 88-86 win at New York on Jan. 17.
“They didn’t draft me,” said the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft.
Kirk Hinrich scored 28 of his 34 points in the second half for Chicago, which plays its playoff opener Sunday afternoon.
Bulls coach Scott Skiles hopes the Bulls pick up their intensity for the playoffs.
“Of course we’re happy to have the win. Ben made a big shot, and Kirk was huge the whole night. But that’s not going to cut it this coming weekend,” Skiles said.
With New York ahead 91-90, the Bulls had three chances to take the lead in the closing minute. Gordon missed a 3 and got his own rebound, but stepped out with 35 seconds left. Then with 12 seconds to go, Chandler was called for an illegal screen by referee Eddie Rush.
Chicago quickly fouled Crawford, who missed two straight free throws setting up Gordon’s game-winner.
“That was unbelievable to me. I’m a pretty good free throw shooter and I want to be in that position. I’ve been in that position before and knocked the shot down. Unfortunately it didn’t go through,” said Crawford, who played four seasons with the Bulls before being traded to Knicks in the off-season.
Crawford scored 24 points for New York and Stephon Marbury added 15.
Marbury didn’t play in the fourth quarter with a sore left foot.
“It was more my bunion, I got a bad bunion,” said Marbury. “It was hurting. It was hurting real bad.”
Crawford hit a jumper to cap an 8-0 run, giving the Knicks a 80-76 lead with 7:48 left. Hinrich came back with 10 straight points for the Bulls, including a 3 to tie the score at 83 with 5:24 left.
Chicago started the season 0-9 and was ranked 29th in the NBA in opponents’ scoring, allowing an average of 101.6 points per game. Since then, the Bulls are 47-25 and now are ranked first in opponents’ field goal percentage.
“That’s great. I’m very proud of our guys. Considering what we’ve gone
Crawford, a close friend of Curry’s who played three seasons with him in Chicago, is not concerned about Curry’s condition. “He’s had a great year and he’s really stepped forth,” said Crawford. “I was a little nervous until I talked to him.” … Forward Lawrence Funderburke, who signed with the Bulls on Monday, played one minute. … The Bulls swept the season series 4-0. It was the first time the Bulls have swept the season series since 1998. … The Bulls have won 15 of their last 18 games, while New York has lost 12 of its last 15 games. … Chandler sprained his left ankle during the fourth quarter. X-rays were negative, and Chandler said he’ll be ready for the playoffs.