Derrick Rose took over scoring duties late in the game to ensure the surging Chicago Bulls held off the New York Knicks to record a 105-102 victory at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
The Knicks (8-14) rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to tie game at 75-75 late in the third quarter before the reigning MVP took matters into his own hands with 15 points in the fourth quarter.
“I really wasn’t forcing it,” Rose told reporters. “I’m always put in that position, where I’m one of the leaders in the fourth quarter. My teammates have confidence in me to take over the game in the fourth quarter and that’s all I do is try.”
New York twice trimmed the lead to one point in the fourth quarter, but failed to get on level terms.
Amar’e Stoudemire missed a three-point attempt with 11 seconds remaining that would have tied the game and Carmelo Anthony’s effort from a similar distance as time expired hit the front of the rim.
“I knew we had a lot of time left,” Stoudemire said of his attempt. “Coach explained if I’m open, shoot it. I was open. Joakim [Noah] contested it. We played hard, played well. We had a chance to win.”
Rose led the Bulls with 32 points and 13 assists, while Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver each added 16 points as the Bulls improved their East-leading record to 19-6.
Anthony sparked New York’s charge with 12 of his 26 points coming in the third quarter, while his Knicks teammate Stoudemire led all scorers with 34 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bulls forged a 55-44 halftime lead, outscoring New York 22-11 to close the first half and converting 11 turnovers in the second quarter into 15 points.
GRIZZLIES 96, HAWKS 77
In Atlanta, Georgia, the Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay scored 21 points to lead five Memphis players in double figures in a win over a listless Atlanta on Thursday that prevented the Hawks going clear top of the Southeast Division.
The Grizzlies pulled away late in the first half, closing on an 18-7 run that gave the visitors a 10-point lead at the break. They extended that advantage in the third quarter as Atlanta missed their first seven shots and turned the ball over three times.
The Hawks were coming off a 4-1 road trip that left them tied with Miami for the Southeast Division lead. However, they looked exhausted in their return home, putting up ugly jumpers, playing pedestrian defense and struggling just to hang on to the ball.
Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo scored 18 apiece for Memphis.
Josh Smith led the Hawks with just 11 points, playing only 19 minutes.
In other games, it was:
‧ Nuggets 112, Clippers 91
‧ Kings 95, Trail Blazers 92
‧ Spurs 93, Hornets 81
‧ Warriors 119, Jazz 101