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Knicks lose to Bulls, drop 22nd in 24 games

NEW YORK (AP) -- Even when the Chicago Bulls trailed by 16
points, Kirk Hinrich felt there was nothing to worry about.

"We know we had Madison Square Gordon, so we knew we were in
the driver's seat," Hinrich said.

If only the home team had a player as clutch in the Garden.

Ben Gordon scored 32 points in another huge game against New
York, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, to help
the Bulls rally to beat the NBA-worst Knicks 108-101 Friday night.

Hinrich added 33 points for the Bulls, who trailed by 16 in the
third quarter before he and Gordon, from nearby Mount Vernon,
brought Chicago back to hand the Knicks their sixth straight loss
and 22nd in 24 games.

Gordon earned his nickname after a series of big games at
Madison Square Garden. He set a tournament scoring record while
leading Connecticut to the Big East title in 2004, then he hit a
basket to beat the Knicks in New York on Jan. 17, 2005.

"It's home for me, so I find that I'm always able to dig deep
down and muscle up some extra energy to come and play in the
Garden," Gordon said.

Gordon averaged 30 points in the first two meetings this season,
including the game-winning jumper at the overtime buzzer in
Chicago's home victory in January. He admitted he enjoys beating
his hometown team.

"I definitely do," he said. "It's just fun playing at home.
It's always a good feeling when you hit a big shot or help your
team win a game."

Steve Francis almost got that feeling. Instead, he remained
winless since coming to the Knicks in a trade with Orlando on the
day before the trade deadline.

Francis scored 18 points, but committed two huge turnovers and
had a shot blocked in the final minute, bringing boos from the
Madison Square Garden crowd.

"We had a lot of mental errors at the end of the game that kind
of solidified the victory for them," Francis said. "On the other
hand, we didn't get stops when we really needed to."

It was another low in an already wacky week for the team with
the league's highest payroll and its worst record. New York was
back home after an 0-3 road trip in which it never led in either of
the first two games, saw coach Larry Brown briefly hospitalized in
Memphis after some pains in his chest, and owner James Dolan
reaffirm his confidence in the direction team president Isiah
Thomas has the team going.

"You can't fault the effort. Guys are trying to win the game,"
Brown said. "But when you make mistakes during the guts of the
game and you don't have time to overcome them, it magnifies the
mistakes. We just had a horrendous fourth quarter and they had a
great fourth quarter."

Quentin Richardson added 16 points, 13 in the third quarter when
the Knicks (15-43) seemed to have control of the game. Stephon
Marbury and Malik Rose each scored 15 points and Jalen Rose had 13.

Richardson, a disappointment in his first season in New York,
sparked a 17-5 spurt to open the second half with three 3-pointers,
the last one extending the Knicks' lead to 73-57 with 7:38 left in
the third quarter.

The Bulls stayed in the game behind Gordon, who scored 13 points
in the final 7 minutes of the period as Chicago pulled within 85-78
on Chris Duhon's 3-pointer with 5.6 seconds remaining.

The Knicks were still up by eight after a steal and basket by
Marbury with 5:41 to play, but Hinrich made a 3-pointer and scored
on a drive to make it 97-94. The Bulls stayed close until Gordon
brought them within two on a jumper with 1:22 to go, then he
drained his 3-pointer less than a minute later to give them the
lead.

Luol Deng followed Francis' turnover with two free throws, then
Hinrich added a pair after Francis was called for an offensive
foul. Deng finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

The Bulls led by three after the first quarter and pushed the
lead to 42-34 midway through the second, but the Knicks rallied to
take the lead after going small. New York played the closing
minutes of the half with 6-foot-8 Jalen Rose as its tallest player.

With Marbury and Francis slicing through the defense to create
easy shots, the Knicks scored the final five points of the half to
take a 56-52 lead on Jalen Rose's jumper at the buzzer.

Game notes
The win helped the Bulls in more than just the standings.
Chicago owns the Knicks' first-round pick in the draft from the
trade that brought Eddy Curry to New York and would have the best
chance at the No. 1 pick if the Knicks finish with the league's
worst record. ... Knicks rookie Nate Robinson was inactive for the
fifth straight game. He has played only once since winning the slam
dunk competition at All-Star weekend. Maurice Taylor also was
inactive with a sore left knee.