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Bulls top Knicks for third time behind 33 by Luol Deng

NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 11: Luol Deng #9 Chicago Bulls attempts shoot around TysChandler #6 New York Knicks MadisSquare

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: Luol Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls attempts to shoot around Tyson Chandler #6 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 11, 2013 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Bulls defeated the Knicks 108-101. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Updated: February 13, 2013 6:14AM



NEW YORK — The Bulls came into the Big Apple on Friday, fists clenched, ready for a street fight.

After all, just last month the teams spent an evening at the Garden collecting nine technicals and watching four players get ejected in a Bulls victory.

So who could have guessed that the bully from New York would be balled up in the fetal position most of the evening in Round 3, only offering up a few kicks of resistance in the final minutes with the game well in hand?

“Some teams have other teams’ numbers,’’ guard Nate Robinson said after the Bulls took a 108-101 victory. “It happens like that in this league. I guess we just wanted it more. They put up a good fight at the end, but overall, we just out-fought them.’’

That should start to be a bit of a concern for a Knicks team that has a 23-13 record and a superstar scorer in Carmelo Anthony but has shown that it can come up short against teams that are hardened on defense — and that play the game physically.

This week alone, the Knicks have lost to Boston, Indiana and the Bulls. Of their 13 losses, the Bulls are responsible for three.

That’s not a coincidence.

“We’ve shown this year that when we really focus and lock in, whoever we play, we’re able to play with them,’’ forward Luol Deng said. “The top teams, play them close, win or lose.’’

That’s not all Deng showed. He showed that Anthony wasn’t the only star at Madison Square Garden.

Anthony scored a game-high 39 points, but 19 came in the fourth, when the Knicks started the quarter down 22 and launched three-pointers out of desperation.

Deng was a factor the entire game, finishing with a season-high 33 points and five assists, as well as drawing the assignment of guarding Anthony most of the night.

“[Deng] got going early, got the hot hand, made a lot of good plays,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He guarded Carmelo about as well as you can guard him, and Carmelo is the ultimate scorer. You got to make him work for his points, but he just finds a way to score.’’

The victory lifted the Bulls to ­20-14, and more impressively 10-5 on the road. Those road wins include two in New York and one last Friday in Miami.

“It’s a lot of games right now,’’ center Joakim Noah said. “We just got to stick to the game plan, play together, play for one another. We’ve been a dominant team at home [the last few years], but it’s just something about the road [this year], we come together, focus.’’

Well, at least for 40 of the 48 minutes. The Knicks scored 41 in the final quarter, which is a big no-no to Thibodeau. This time, at least, he was willing to forgive his players a bit, considering the magnitude of the win.

“For the most part, I thought we played well for three-and-a-half quarters,’’ Thibodeau said. “A team that shoots the three like that can make up a lot of points on you. But a lot of guys stepped up and played well.’’



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