CHICAGO — The ball had squirted loose, been gathered up, launched and bounced loose again, before finding its way, inevitably, back to Derrick Rose. A few steps and one leap later, Rose was in flight, soaring over the paint, between Baron Davis and Tyson Chandler and bearing down on the basket.
The Knicks could not contend with the agility and ferocity of the league’s reigning most valuable player, or match the all-out hustle of the Bulls, who took the game by force in the fourth quarter, with big rebounds and second-chance points — including Rose’s stylish dunk.
The inability to match that hustle left the Knicks with their sixth straight loss, tying their longest streak of the season.
“It’s a hard situation to be in right now,” said Carmelo Anthony, had 21 points but again shot poorly (8 for 21). “Losing basketball games the way we’re losing, it’s kind of hard to stay upbeat. We’ll have no choice but to do that and keep on pushing.”
It was the Knicks’ best effort in a week. They held the Bulls to 43 percent shooting, and held Rose to a 12 for 29 night. But Rose still finished with 32 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds and dominated the critical minutes.
The Bulls grabbed 22 offensive rebounds, 9 in the fourth quarter, leading to 24 second-chance points, including 8 in the fourth. Anthony called those numbers “unacceptable,” invoking the word for the second day in a row.
The deficit was 5 points when Taj Gibson grabbed an offensive rebound — the Bulls’ second on the possession — leading to Rose’s driving dunk and a 97-90 lead. The Knicks never got closer than 4 points after that.
“I think we played great defense, held them to I think 43 percent shooting,” Chandler said, “but we didn’t finish the job. You got to get the rebound.”
Chandler grabbed 10 rebounds and Anthony had eight, but Amar’e Stoudemire grabbed just three in 34 minutes. Gibson and Joakim Noah combined for 23 rebounds for Chicago, which won the rebounding battle by 56-38.
The Bulls (35-9) entered the game with the N.B.A.’s best record and hardly seemed to miss Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton, their injured starters. The Knicks (18-24) arrived with a debilitating losing streak, a fragile psyche and the increasing anxiety that the season is slipping away.
The loss to Chicago, combined with a Milwaukee victory, left the Knicks in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
“We don’t feel great about our position,” Stoudemire said. “We feel like we’re a much better team than being the eighth seed.”
Stoudemire then made a plea for more professionalism in the locker room, saying that players need to show up earlier, with more focus and a more serious attitude.
“The joking around has to stop at some point,” he said. “We got to take this game very serious, especially in a time where now we’re in the eighth seed and we’re not playing well. So the time is now.”
Stoudemire did not offer specifics. But there was some horseplay in the locker room before the game, with one player throwing a chunk of food at Mike Bibby.
“There’s no time for fun and games right now,” Stoudemire said.
On the plus side, the Knicks got a resurgent performance from Stoudemire (20 points), a steady game from Jeremy Lin (15 points, 8 assists) and double-digit scoring from every starter. Stoudemire was highly efficient, going 7 for 12 from the field and showing more consistency with his jump shot.
Anthony played with a look of disgust all night and slapped his hands angrily in the fourth quarter when Landry Fields failed to get him the ball in the post.
After Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia, Coach Mike D’Antoni gave another impassioned defense of Lin and said he would stick with him through his struggles. Lin responded well, despite another long night of getting knocked around by defenders and the challenge of defending perhaps the N.B.A.’s best point guard.
Lin got the best of Rose early in the third, stripping the ball to set up Anthony for a fast-break layup. Then Rose tagged Lin with his third and fourth fouls in a span of 55 seconds.
As a sign of how far he has come, Lin heard louder boos than any other Knick during introductions. Late in the game, fans paid Lin — who has been underrated for years — the ultimate compliment. They chanted, “Overrated.”
Jared Jeffries said he should be back in the rotation for Wednesday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers, after missing four games because of a sore right knee. Jeffries had the knee drained last Thursday and said it “feels a whole lot better now.” The knee was originally injured in a Feb. 4 game against the Nets, Jeffries said, but he did not miss any games until last week. “The Dallas game, before the game I couldn’t get loose,” he said. The defense sagged without Jeffries and Tyson Chandler last week, but Jeffries played down his own absence. “We played some good teams,” he said. “I don’t expect to come back and us to go on like an eight-game winning streak. I think I can help.”
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment