With Taj Gibson leading an offense that appears to have found a rhythm, the Chicago Bulls are enjoying their best stretch of the season.
Even though Carmelo Anthony keeps filling the stat sheet, the New York Knicks can’t break free of their downward spiral.
The Bulls go for their ninth win in 10 games overall and 22nd in 25 home meetings with the reeling Knicks on Sunday.
Gibson finished with 20 points and a season-high 15 rebounds to help Chicago win its third straight, 100-91 at Dallas on Friday. Mike Dunleavy hit the go-ahead 3-pointer as the Bulls rallied from a 16-point deficit and outscored the Mavericks 27-15 in the fourth quarter.
"We’re used to this," Gibson said after Chicago (32-26) moved a season-high six games over .500. "We get knocked down and we keep coming back."
Gibson has keyed the team’s current surge, averaging 18.4 points and 8.7 rebounds over his last 10 games. The Brooklyn native is coming off a career-best month after scoring 16.9 points per game in February – a touch better than teammate Jimmy Butler’s 13.9.
Butler, though, has totaled 35 points on 11-of-24 shooting in his last two games after missing two due to a rib contusion.
Although the Bulls rank near the bottom of the NBA with 93.1 points per game and a 42.8 field-goal percentage, they’ve averaged 103.3 points on 45.5 percent shooting during their win streak.
"We are an offensive juggernaut," coach Tom Thibodeau said with a smile.
Thibodeau’s offense got a bit of a boost Saturday with the addition of former BYU sensation Jimmer Fredette, who was bought out by Sacramento on Thursday. The sharp-shooting guard is averaging just 5.9 points and 11.3 minutes in his third season, however, Chicago could be a good fit for him, given his ability to stretch the floor.
The Bulls have shot just 37.2 percent – including 9 for 37 from beyond the arc – while splitting two meetings with the Knicks (21-38) this season. New York, though, has given up 116.0 points per game and 45.1 percent shooting from 3-point range during its five-game losing streak.
The Knicks allowed 73 first-half points and 14 3-pointers overall Friday as they closed out a 2-11 February with a 126-103 home loss to Golden State. The frustration appeared to boil over when Tyson Chandler was thrown out in the fourth quarter after picking up two technical fouls, the first for shoving Warriors backup Marreese Speights.
"We shouldn’t be in this position," Anthony said of being six games out of the final playoff spot. "But we’ve got games to play."
Anthony, second in the NBA at 28.2 points per game, finished with 23 and 16 rebounds despite shooting 7 for 26 from the field. He’s averaged 36.2 points and made 23 of 50 (46.0 percent) from 3-point range in his last six contests.
The seven-time All-Star had 30 points and 10 boards Dec. 11 to help New York end a six-game losing streak versus Chicago with an 83-78 home win. He scored 22 on just 8-of-24 shooting in the Bulls’ home opener on Oct. 31, when Derrick Rose hit a floater with 5.7 seconds left to give Chicago an 83-82 victory.
While Iman Shumpert (sprained left knee), Andrea Bargnani (left elbow) and Kenyon Martin (left ankle) continue to miss time, Amare Stoudemire is expected to play after resting his knees in the second of back-to-back contests.
He’ll try to provide a boost for an offense that posted a 37.6 field-goal percentage while the Knicks have dropped their last two by a combined 49 points. That could be difficult against Chicago, which has limited opponents to 88.7 points per game on 41.4 percent shooting during this 8-1 stretch.
The Bulls have won five straight meetings at the United Center.