Bulls enjoy life of grime in 93-85 win over visiting Knicks
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com December 8, 2012 11:13PM
Chicago Bulls Vs New York Knicks. Chicago Bulls No.8 Marco Belinelli celebrates with No.13 Joakim Noah and No.9 Luol Deng after the Bulls victory over the New York Knicks 93-85. Saturday December 8, 2012 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: January 10, 2013 6:41AM
It was one of those games that had grimy written all over it.
Knicks-Bulls, no Derrick Rose, no Carmelo Anthony, no Richard Hamilton. Two defensive-minded teams with no real star power on the floor.
Then the Bulls watched Taj Gibson get the boot in the second quarter, courtesy of two technicals, and, of course, Kirk Hinrich couldn’t answer the bell for the second half with a bum left elbow.
Grimy in every sense of the word.
Right where the Bulls needed it to be.
Thanks to 22 points apiece from Luol Deng and Marco Belinelli, the Bulls had their first signature victory of the season Saturday, beating the New York Knicks 93-85 at the United Center.
“Definitely,’’ Joakim Noah said when asked about the ugliness of the Bulls’ third consecutive win. “That’s just one of those hard-fought wins. I’m just happy we won. You know what? I’m tired. What [stinks] is if I felt like this, and we wouldn’t have won. I mean, Saturday night, the Knicks, [losing] would have been bad.’’
Letting another elite team escape with a victory at the UC definitely would’ve been bad. It already has happened several times this season.
“Oklahoma City, Indiana, we’ve let too many good teams slide away,’’ Gibson said. “This was one of those games we had to just grind it out. [Coach Tom Thibodeau] gives us the freedom to play defense, and it feels good to pull out a tough win against a great team.’’
Thibodeau needed to see that his team could put together a 48-minute game against an elite team.
They’ve had the first 36 minutes down pat in most cases. It’s those last 12 that have been problematic.
Jimmy Butler’s layup gave the Bulls a 67-65 lead going into the fourth, and the back-and-forth continued until just over four minutes were left, when Butler, again playing above the rim, gave the Bulls a four-point lead.
After a stop, Deng gave the Bulls an 83-77 lead with two free throws. Then it was hang-on time, with the Bulls standing up to a Knicks flurry that lacked any real punch.
Holding a 14-5 team to 20 points in the fourth quarter showed the kind of mental toughness Thibodeau has been waiting all year to see.
“The Knicks are tough,’’ Thibodeau said. “They keep constant pressure on you; they can erase a lead very quickly. Overall, I thought it was a very good win.’’
But victories don’t have a long shelf life with Thibodeau, and he already was looking ahead to the home game Tuesday against the Clippers.
Thibodeau said Hinrich tweaked his left elbow and is day-to-day. He also said he understood Gibson’s frustration but wants him to understand the situation in the game.
“We talked about it briefly,’’ Thibodeau said. “There were some tough calls that I thought went against him, and it’s an emotional game, but we still have to do better with that. You get one [technical], you have to let it go.’’