The Knicks will be at full strength and back at home, where they have been nearly unbeatable, when they clash again with the Bulls tonight at 6:30 on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.
Before Monday’s loss to the Houston Rockets – when former overnight celebrity Jeremy Lin returned to score 23 points and dish out eight assists on his former team – the New York Knicks had been a perfect 10-0 at Madison Square Garden. In fact, dating back to last season Mike Woodson’s group had lost one time, to the Miami Heat in April, in its last 21 outings in the Big Apple.
The Knicks still boast a league-best 11-1 record at home, but they’ll need to get back on track quick against a Bulls team playing solid basketball on the road. Tom Thibodeau’s group had a streak of four straight road wins broken on Monday in Memphis, so one team will begin a new streak tonight at Madison Square Garden.
The Bulls were successful in their first meeting against New York this season, taking down a Carmelo Anthony-less group 83-85 at the United Center. And while not having to face their team MVP -- and perhaps the league MVP through two months – made life easier for Chicago, it’s worth noting that two nights earlier the Knicks, without Anthony, had defeated the Miami Heat in Miami, giving credibility to the Bulls’ win against the deep New York team.
Anthony will be back in the lineup tonight and will look to continue his career year going as he leads the Knicks above the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Anthony’s 28.0 point-per-game-average and 47.6 percent mark from the field are not career-bests, but when put together show the former No. 3 overall pick is playing the most efficient basketball of his nine-year career. He has missed four games – including the loss to Houston – with a sprained ankle but returned Wednesday to score 31 points in a 100-86 home win against in-state rival Brooklyn. Outside of guarding LeBron James, Anthony will be the toughest test Luol Deng sees all season.
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Just as the Bulls had a busy offseason moving and bringing in key pieces, the Knicks did the same. After losing Lin to the Rockets, veteran point guards Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd were brought in to fill the void. Those two have been every bit as good as advertised, with Kidd playing more of a shooting guard role next to the point guard Felton, while still providing his patented defense on the other end. Former Bull Ronnie Brewer is one of three Knicks to start all 25 games this season, but will look to improve on his 0-of-5 performance the first time these two teams squared off.
As Joakim Noah’s dream season continues, he’ll once again be tested in the middle by a rejuvenated Tyson Chandler, who of course spent the first five years of his career in Chicago. After helping the Mavericks to an NBA title in 2011, Chandler was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2011-’12 and is now enjoying the best offensive season of his 11-year career. In a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s two best active centers – Andrew Bynum, when healthy, may take that crown – Noah vs. Chandler could determine the outcome of tonight’s game.
The Bulls will try and become the first team to take down the Eastern Conference’s best team twice tonight when they take the court in the World’s Most Famous Arena. Make sure to check out the action live, and don’t miss pre- and post-game analysis with Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill, only on Comcast SportsNet.