The Chicago Bulls and reigning league MVP 4th-year point guard Derrick Rose arrive on the island of Manhattan to take on the New York Knicks tonight at Madison Square Garden. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s guys are 18-6 and sit atop the Eastern Conference even after losing in the City of Brotherly Love last night to the exciting, upstart Philadelphia 76ers 98-82. On the other side, after dropping 9 of their last 11 contests, coach Mike D’Antoni’s squad crushed the Detroit Pistons in Manhattan on Tuesday night 113-86. The up and down Knicks currently sit in 10th place in the East at 8-13.
Knick scorer extraordinaire 9th-year forward Carmelo Anthony led the team with 25 points in the much needed win after sitting out New York’s previous two games with nagging ankle, wrist and thumb injuries. All-Star Anthony couldn’t have returned at a better time with the Knicks kicking off their only back-to-back-to-back stretch of the compacted season against the imposing, but recently injury-depleted Bulls. Tonight’s 48-minute tussle will be Chicago’s fourth of nine straight games away from the United Center. So far they are 1-2 on this February road sojourn. New Bull 13th-year shooting guard Richard Hamilton won’t play tonight due to thigh and groin issues. However, 8th-year forward Luol Deng should be available
after a six-game absence due to a torn ligament in his wrist.
If the former Dukie Deng is back at the 3 alongside center Joakim Noah and power forward Carlos Boozer, also a Duke alum, the frontline matchup at the Mecca of Hoops will be top-notch considering the 3-4-5 starting for the Gothamites. Anthony, along with 10th-year, 6X All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire and 11th-year center Tyson Chandler, who spent the first five seasons of his career with Chicago, are considered by many haranguers of the hardwood to be the best frontline in the NBA today.
The last time Chicago lost two in a row in the regular season was almost a full calendar year ago on February 5th and 7th, 2011. In addition, MVP Rose has put up great numbers against the Knicks in their last six meetings: 26.2 ppg to go along with a 54.1 FG%. And veteran Boozer seems to love playing in the white-hot spotlight of West 33rd street NYC as well. In his last six trips to MSG he has averaged 22.5 ppg and 15.8 rpg.
Live coverage of Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks tips off at 8:00 PM ET on TNT following the announcement of the 2012 All-Star starting lineups.