Amid Playoff Atmosphere, Knicks Beat Bulls In Overtime Thriller

Published on: 9th April, 2012

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Amid Playoff Atmosphere, Knicks Beat Bulls In Overtime Thriller  | read this item

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New York – If Knicks fans wanted to give Chicago Bulls players a sneak peek at what playoff-intensity basketball in this town will sound and feel like, today’s matinee game with the Bulls at Madison Square Garden provided all of the elements.

And, if they were also wondering if Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks $18.5 million man could come up big in big games, both statistically and in the win column, they got more than a sneak peek.

In the spotlight of a national television audience on Easter Day, and under the pressure to perform with his team especially undermanned because of injury, Anthony produced his and his team’s highest-scoring game of this season, lighting up the Bulls for 43 points in leading the Knicks to a 100-99 overtime victory. More importantly, it was the timing of his points that brought home the win for the hometown team and led Anthony to an emotional, post-game high-five fest with courtside patrons as the buzzer sounded at game’s end.

Anthony hit on two heroic shots when they were most needed.  The first “Melo” game-changer came with 11.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter to bring on overtime. The next one won the ballgame – hitting from beyond the three-point arc over Luol Deng from the right wing with 8.2 seconds left to erase a 2-point deficit and give the Knicks the win.

The crowd erupts after Carmelo Anthony hits the game-winning three-pointer

After making the game-winning bucket, Anthony could be seen yelling, “It’s my house.’’

“It was mine today,’’ Anthony said afterward. “They were just talking some trash a little bit, in the moment.’’

“This is one of the tops,” Anthony said, referring to the big events that have sprinkled his career.  “Overtime, Easter Sunday, everybody’s watching — this ranks as one of the tops.”

It was a game much more important to win for New York, teetering on playoff- extinction with a 28-27 record coming in,  than for Chicago, which had already clinched a playoff position with the NBA’s best record. With the Milwaukee Bucks breathing down the Knicks backs, just a half-game behind in ninth place, every single game remaining on the schedule has playoff implications for the New Yorkers.

Both teams came into the game fully aware of their respective positions in the playoff hierarchy. The Bulls are in first place in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks are in eighth place and if you don’t already know how the tournament operates, #1 plays #8 when the post-season festivities begin in three weeks. And, that means these two teams could very well be facing off again in round one’s best of seven series.

As if Chicago, with the league’s best record (43-13) needed any more help, Derrick Rose, their point guard and the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player, was back in the lineup after missing the last 12 games with a groin injury. Although his game had a little rust on it, particularly with his shooting (8 of 26) and floor management (8 turnovers), Rose filled up the box score as usual with 29 points.

“They jumped on us but we came back,” Rose said. “I had a lot of turnovers. I am just trying to get back into rhythm. It was one of those games at the end and I missed free-throws. I need to knock them down.”

The Knicks held an 18-point lead in the second quarter but you got the impression Rose would turn it on in the second half because, well, he’s Derrick Rose. One scribe was even heard telling no one in particular that the Bulls “will win by 10 points, easy”  when the Knicks had their big first half lead, simply because of the Rose factor in every game Chicago plays. His immense talent makes him an unguardable player who can get into the lane at will or hit threes with hands in his face.

Not today, though.

“I felt good, my wind was okay,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was trying to let the game come to me. In the second half, I was trying to get aggressive.”

After missing so many games, though, Rose showed his Superman act was not quite ready for Broadway on this particular day.

“It is tough when you lose a game, especially for us,” he continued.  “We built a big lead but they kept fighting. They always play hard but now Melo is in a groove where he is hitting a lot of tough shots and they do a great job finding him.”

These two teams face-off again on Wednesday, in Chicago. For the Knicks, every game is a must-win. The players found out today just how loud their home court can be when they win big games. If they continue to eke out wins against teams like Chicago as this season winds down, Knicks fans will get the opportunity to impose their will on playoff games in New York.

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