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Half turns into a hole for Bulls

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Derrick Rose looks to pass as he draws a crowd under the basket Thursday against the Knicks.


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In the Bulls' first two home games, they were able to survive periods of subpar play on the defensive end, but that certainly wasn't the case Thursday night.

The Bulls were a step slow on defense at the start, dug themselves a deep hole with a poor second quarter and never emerged in a 120-112 loss to the New York Knicks at the United Center.

Coach Tom Thibodeau wants a defensive-minded team, but the Bulls were anything but against New York's three-point assault.

''I thought we eased into the game and we were closing short to the line,'' Thibodeau said. ''They got their confidence going early. Once a shooting team like that gets their confidence early, it's a lot harder to shut them down.''

The Bulls (2-2) didn't come close to accomplishing that. Led by Toney Douglas (career-high 30 points off the bench) and Danilo Gallinari (26 points) -- who were a combined 9-for-13 -- the Knicks were an amazing 16-for-24 (66.7 percent) from three-point range.

The Bulls had a season-high in points and another outstanding game from point guard Derrick Rose (24 points and career-high 14 assists), but it wasn't enough to overcome their poor defense.

''You have to find a way to challenge those shots,'' Bulls center Joakim Noah said. ''Our game plan was to get them to take tough two-pointers, but we couldn't get them off that line.''

The Knicks (2-2) led by as much as 21 points and took a 70-52 halftime lead. The Bulls rallied from 21 points down against the Detroit Pistons last week and immediately made a run at the start of the second half to trim the deficit to 93-83 heading into the fourth quarter.

Less than a minute into the final quarter, swingman Kyle Korver (18 points) hit a three-pointer to make it 95-87, the closest the Bulls had been since early in the second quarter.

But instead of another dominant closing quarter -- they outscored the Pistons 34-9 in the fourth -- their momentum was short-lived.

After Korver's three, the Knicks answered with 10 straight points. Douglas started the run with a three-pointer.

But New York nearly let the Bulls back in the game -- after Thibodeau had taken out his starters with nine minutes to go -- by going scoreless for five minutes as their 19-point lead was trimmed to 108-99 with just under five minutes left.

Thibodeau opted not to go back to his starters as Taj Gibson (18 points) made a pair of free throws with 3:04 left to make it 113-104. The Bulls never got closer than the final score down the stretch.

Thibodeau said he stuck with his bench players because they were defending the three-point line better and he wanted to see if they could continue the run.

Was keeping the starters on the bench a message-

''Whether it's a message or not, we have to do a better job,'' Luol Deng said.

KNICKS 120, BULLS 112New York 34 36 23 27 -- 120

BULLS 30 22 31 29 -- 112

Portland min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

Gallinari 36:37 7-11 6-6 2-6 1 2 24

Stoudemire 37:21 5-21 4-5 2-8 3 6 14

Mozgov 10:16 0-0 1-2 0-1 1 1 1

Felton 35:20 7-11 2-2 1-5 10 0 20

Fields 21:03 2-2 1-2 0-3 1 3 6

Chandler 24:31 4-11 1-2 1-5 3 5 10

Douglas 31:12 9-14 7-7 0-1 4 4 30

Walker 15:08 2-2 1-2 0-1 1 0 6

Turiaf 25:39 4-8 1-1 4-7 3 2 9

Randolph 2:53 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 2 0

Totals 240:00 40-80 24-29 10-38 27 25 120

Percentages: FG .500, FT .828. 3-Point Goals: 16-24, .667 (Douglas 5-9, Gallinari 4-4, Felton 4-6, Fields 1-1, Walker 1-1, Chandler 1-3). Team Rebounds: 6. Team Turnovers: 17 (21 pts). Blocked Shots: 6 (Stoudemire 2, Chandler, Gallinari, Mozgov, Turiaf). Turnovers: 17 (Stoudemire 8, Felton 3, Chandler, Douglas, Fields, Gallinari, Mozgov, Walker). Steals: 12 (Douglas 4, Felton 2, Gallinari 2, Turiaf 2, Chandler, Stoudemire). Technical Fouls: Defensive three second, 6:53 first; Defensive three second, 11:46 first.

BULLS min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

Deng 33:19 5-13 4-5 3-4 1 3 17

Gibson 33:34 6-10 6-8 4-10 2 2 18

Noah 32:30 5-8 2-2 3-13 3 1 12

Rose 34:59 9-17 4-6 0-1 14 2 24

Bogans 25:29 2-4 0-2 0-1 1 1 4

Johnson 8:16 1-5 0-0 1-3 0 2 2

Asik 17:58 3-3 1-2 0-5 0 2 7

Scalabrine 7:22 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 2

Watson 13:01 1-7 2-2 0-1 3 2 4

Korver 20:42 7-10 0-0 1-2 2 4 18

Brewer 12:50 2-3 0-0 0-2 1 0 4

Totals 240:00 42-81 19-27 12-42 27 21 112

Percentages: FG .519, FT .704. 3-Point Goals: 9-19, .474 (Korver 4-6, Deng 3-4, Rose 2-4, Watson 0-1, Bogans 0-2, Johnson 0-2). Team Rebounds: 6. Team Turnovers: 20 (26 pts). Blocked Shots: 6 (Gibson 2, Noah 2, Bogans, Deng). Turnovers: 20 (Deng 5, Asik 3, Noah 3, Rose 3, Gibson 2, Bogans, Brewer, Korver, Watson). Steals: 8 (Brewer 2, Noah 2, Deng, Gibson, Rose, Watson). Technical Fouls: None.

Officials--Dan Crawford, Derrick Collins, Violet Palmer. A--21,203 (20,917). T--2:32.

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