The Bulls started kind of slow once again, but they appeared to take control with a 13-3 run to start the 2nd quarter. That run was triggered by the unusual lineup of Chris Duhon, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, PJ Brown and Malik Allen. Gordon, Brown and Allen appear to have become Skiles' reserves of choice. I still think Thabo Sefolosha has something to offer, but if this veteran group makes Skiles comfortable, and the team continues playing well when the competition improves Friday, then let it be that way.
Anyway, the Knicks had their own run, as all NBA teams do, and the game went back and forth until the 4th quarter. About a minute into the 4th, the Bulls brought Ben Wallace in for Allen, and Kirk Hinrich in for Deng, giving them a three guard line-up of Duhon, Hinrich, Gordon, Brown and Wallace. Featuring a balanced attack led by Duhon, who had 10 4th quarter points (18 overall, all in the second half), the Bulls uncorked a 29-12 run to close the game.
Gordon led the team with 23 points, 10 of which came during the Bulls' 2nd quarter run. He and Duhon were among six Bulls in double figures, including Deng, who had 12. Deng is averaging 18.6 per game, and has hit double figures in every game this season. He is close to becoming the break out, dependable scorer that the Bulls have been looking for.
The New Orleans / Oklahoma City Hornets will provide more of a challenge on Friday. But the rest of the Bulls' near-term schedule includes lots of home games and lots of games against that woeful Atlantic Division. The truth is that with the Circus Trip out of the way, the rest of the Bulls' schedule is pretty easy. Hopefully two games against the Knicks have been medicine enough to cure this team of its losing ways, and allow the Bulls to take advantage of the opportunity that now presents itself.