One of the Knicks' superstars finally played like one, but the Bulls' franchise player was that much better. There were long periods of Thursday night's 105-102 Bulls victory over the the Knicks that Rose was simply unstoppable. The reigning league MVP scored 15 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulls held off the Knicks, who got a much-needed breakout performance from Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire's 34 points and 11 rebounds weren't enough as Rose's 32 points and 13 assists led his club to their conference-leading 19th win of the season. The Knicks fell to 8-14, and have two games in the next two nights, perhaps needing to win both to save the job of head coach Mike D'Antoni.
The Knicks fell behind by as many as 13 points but rallied in the third quarter to momentarily tie the game. it was a close bout until the end, with the Knicks hanging around in the fourth on clutch baskets by Stoudemire and Landry Fields. Stoudemire was called upon to try and tie the game from unfamiliar territory, as with 10 seconds left his 3-point attempt missed and essentially sealed Chicago's victory. Carmelo Anthony had a prayer 3-point shot as time expired that had about as much chance of going in as D'Antoni does in being the Knicks' coach on opening night next season.
The story of the Knicks' season so far has been their poor offense and namely the inability of Stoudemire and Anthony to click on the same night. On Thursday is was Stoudemire's turn, as he poured in a season high in points, but Anthony was lacking. He finished with 26 points but was just 10-of-26 from the field. In a close game on their home court against an elite team, the Knicks could have used Anthony down the stretch, and he was very quiet in the fourth quarter. The Knicks need a performance from one of their stars akin to what Rose gave the Bulls. It's not about the amount of points he score or assists he handed out -- and his numbers were indeed impressive -- it was when he got his points at crucial points of the game.
Now the Knicks head to the road to take on the aging Celtics on Friday night. They return to Madison Square Garden o Saturday to host the Nets. Two losses drops them to 8-16 and surely puts D'Antoni's job in peril. Even a 1-1 record doesn't seem good enough to stave off the embattled coach from a possible firing. At this point it seems as though its when, not if, D'Antoni gets the axe. Despite the Knicks playing a generally good game against the East's best team, the only thing that matters now are wins and losses. With each tally on the right column of the standings, things become more tenuous for the Knicks' head coach.