Fresh off a home win Wednesday night, the Knicks faced a tough early season test on the road against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls in a primetime Thursday matchup.
Despite trailing for most of the night, New York continued to apply pressure defense in keeping pace with the high-scoring Bulls and Rose, who was returning to action for the first time in months.
Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony all contributed to a valiant effort that came up just short in an 82-81 loss after Rose knocked down a high-arching floater over the outstretched arms of Chandler with five seconds left.
Chandler, who played marvelously on defense for the second straight game in snagging 19 rebounds, missed the first of two clutch free throws that would’ve given the Knicks a two-point lead. Instead, Rose, who showed signs that he’ll need a few more games before he returns to his 2011 MVP form, got the bucket that mattered the most and much to the delight of the United Center faithful that went into a frenzy as the ball fell graciously through the net.
The Knicks had one last chance but Anthony, who finished with 22 points and six rebounds, had a good look at a long jumper that glanced off the side of the rim at the final horn.
''I was right there. He just made a big-time play,'' Chandler said afterwards. ''I don't know if he saw the basket to be honest with you.”
Rose finished with 18 points on 7-of-23 shooting while Luol Deng added 17 and Carlos Boozer finished with 14 for the Bulls, who have now won six consecutive games over New York.
Rose and Deng were the catalysts early on, as they helped Chicago build a double-digit advantage before the Knicks started chipping at it late in the first half to make it a 43-38 Bulls’ lead at the break.
However, with New York trailing by 10 late in the third, rookie phenom Tim Hardaway Jr. sparked a 12-0 run by knocking down a 3-pointer before buckets by Felton, Shumpert and Anthony gave the Knicks their first lead since the first quarter at the 4:10 of the final period.
Both teams’ defenses took over down the stretch before Rose’s heroics sent the Knicks to their first loss of the season – one that they will look to put behind them when they return to The Garden for a Sunday evening matchup with Minnesota.
''We competed tonight,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said afterwards. “It says a lot for our club. Now I just need to do a better job getting us through down the stretch.''