As happy as Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni is with Chris Duhon, he joked about how he cursed a couple of times when the Bulls cashed in a 1.7 percent chance to win the draft lottery last May, mere days after he rejected the Bulls' job.
"Chicago is going to watch a really good point guard for a lot of years," D'Antoni said, smiling, of Derrick Rose. "If he can stay away from the apple cutters."
But Rose shook off the pain as he and his teammates then inflicted some on the Knicks with a 105-100 victory Tuesday night at the United Center.
Believe it or not, defense down the stretch—and some missed open Knicks shots—won this one. The Bulls held the league's third-highest scoring team to one three-pointer over the final 4 minutes 3 seconds.
"We hustled for 48 minutes," guard Larry Hughes said. "We didn't play a great game, but we were active."
Trailing 97-92 midway through the fourth, the Bulls pulled even on Ben Gordon's three-pointer with 2 minutes 52 seconds remaining.
The teams then traded several misses before Hughes, solid off the bench again with 16 points, eight rebounds and four steals, swished a three-pointer from directly in front of the Knicks' bench with 55.3 seconds left off a nice feed from Gordon.
"It's always good to make one when it counts," Hughes said.
Duhon missed on a driving left-handed layup attempt. When the Knicks couldn't corral a rebound off a Luol Deng miss, Drew Gooden broke free along the baseline and was fouled, converting both free throws with 16.2 seconds to play.
Gooden's 22 points and 16 rebounds led the Bulls, who also received 15 points and seven assists from Rose. He wore a protective sleeve over his injury.
Al Harrington's 28 points led the Knicks.
Duhon, who narrowly missed a triple double with 15 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, returned to the United Center for the first time since signing a two-year, $11.6 million free-agent contract with the Knicks. The former second-round pick played an integral role on three Bulls playoff teams, and his biggest fan could be D'Antoni.
"I was out running crazy for him," D'Antoni said of the Knicks' free-agent pursuit. "I've always liked him."
Duhon compared the current Knicks to his rookie season with the Bulls, saying they need to learn how to win close games. But he enjoyed his return experience.
"It was fun," he said. "I expected to get booed but they were kind to me."
One game after Tyrus Thomas played only five minutes and Joakim Noah didn't leave the bench, Thomas sat the entire game for the first time this season. Noah played 19 minutes with four blocks.
Vinny Del Negro got the Bulls' coaching job after D'Antoni turned it down.
"I don't get into that," Del Negro said. "I don't care. I have so much respect for Mike. He's doing a great job in New York."
On this night, however, the Bulls were better.
Bulls 105, Knicks 100
Hughes' 3 lifts Bulls over Knicks
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