Butler bucket gives Bulls 2 point win over Pacers

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INDIANAPOLIS—The Bulls need to win, and they don’t care how.Jimmy Butler made a tiebreaking jumper with 3.7 seconds left, and the Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 98-96 on Tuesday night to snap a four-game losing streak.Nikola Mirotic scored 28 points as the Bulls (37-37) got back to .500 and pulled within two games of Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

”We needed this win,” Butler said. ”It was big for us to get a win here on the road against a playoff team. Hopefully this starts a trend for these last eight or nine games.”
Mirotic made seven 3-pointers, his final one tying it at 96 with 2:19 remaining.The Pacers missed five shots in the final 2 minutes that would have given them the lead before the Bulls rebounded Pau Gasol’s miss with 20 seconds remaining and got the ball to Butler for his 17-footer from the right wing.CJ Miles missed a 3-pointer that would have won it as time expired. Paul George had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Pacers, while Ian Mahinmi had 18 points and seven boards.

”(The Bulls) executed down the stretch,” a frustrated George said. ”(For us) it was stagnant. Real stagnant. We’ve got to get better (shots) than that.”
Butler finished with 14 points, and Gasol added 10 points and 11 rebounds.The game was tied at 84 heading into the fourth quarter, where both teams hit a shooting slump. The Pacers shot 22 percent and the Bulls 26 percent, but outscored Indiana 14-12. The lead changed a total of 14 times throughout the game.

”(It was) a really ugly fourth quarter on the offensive end,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said.
”We beat them (with) ball screens in the fourth quarter. We were trying to confuse them and slip them out. (Mirotic) was big time all game long and put the ball in Jimmy’s hands at the end. Jimmy rose up and knocked down a big shot.”
The Pacers outscored the Bulls 52-36 in the paint, 15-5 in fast-break points and finished the game with four fewer turnovers, but still managed to lose a crucial game against a division opponent. The Bulls hold the tiebreaker over the Pacers for playoff seeding as the season enters the final two weeks.

NOTES—Mirotic was 7 of 13 on 3-point attempts and 9 of 18 overall….. All three of the Bulls wins over Indiana this season were by three points or less … The Bulls won at Indiana for the first time since Dec. 29, 2014….:The Bulls visit Houston on Thursday.

Hawks lose to Wild again, Keith gets match penalty, likely to be suspended

ST. PAUL—For three straight years, the Minnesota Wild have been eliminated from the playoffs by the Blackhawks.This five-game season sweep of the Hildawks doesn’t make up for that, but for the Wild, it sure felt good.Jared Spurgeon, Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter scored in the third period to lift surging Minnesota to a 4-1 victory over the Hawks on Tuesday night, stretching the Wild’s season-high winning streak to six straight games.

”When you have that confidence going into the playoffs, if you do happen to play in them, it’s huge,” Spurgeon said.

Marian Hossa had the goal for the Blackhawks, the 499th of his career. The Blackhawks played without their two top defensemen, because of an illness for Brent Seabrook and then a first-period match penalty on Duncan Keith for swinging his stick at Charlie Coyle.

”They play really hard, especially in this building. We have to give them credit. They had our number this year,” Hossa said.

The Blackhawks have clinched their spot in the playoffs, but they fell to 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. They snagged only one point in five games against the Wild, in a shootout loss at home last week.

”It’s not fun to look back and have a record like that against a team in your division, especially a team like Minnesota,” Jonathan Toews said. ”It’s not something we’re happy about.”

Jarret Stoll scored with the first on-target shot of the night for the Wild, who added an empty-netter from Niederreiter at the end while improving to 15-6-1 in 22 games under interim coach John Torchetti. Strengthening their hold on the second wild-card spot, the Wild stretched their lead over Colorado to five points with five games to play. Four of those for the Wild are against teams below the cut for the playoffs.Forgetting for a moment about that 3-12 record in the postseason, the Wild are 13-6-1 in their last 20 games against the Blackhawks.Spurgeon’s career-high 11th goal was set up by a slick lead pass from Mikko Koivu that the Minnesota captain maneuvered around Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Spurgeon caught up to the puck, made a quick move to his right and went left to tap in the winner between goalie Scott Darling’s arm and leg.The Hawks depleted defense faded down the stretch. Hjalmarsson and Trevor Van Riemsdyk converged on Niederreiter on the right wing, before a pass to the wide-open Haula streaking down the middle. Van Riemsdyk peeled off too late, and Haula backhanded the puck between Darling’s pads for his fourth goal and ninth point in the last nine games.Devan Dubnyk stopped 19 shots to improve to 11-1-1 in his last 13 decisions. He’s 59-31-8 for the Wild since arriving in a Jan. 14, 2015, trade with Arizona.Darling made 18 saves for the Blackhawks, who’ve been without regular goalie Corey Crawford for the last seven games because of an upper-body injury. They were already without Seabrook for the first time in four years. Then they lost Keith, who was knocked onto his back before whacking Coyle in the nose with a blood-drawing blow. Keith was immediately ejected for what the officials determined was intent to injure.As for a possible suspension?

”We miss guys all year long, so I’m not worrying about hypotheticals,” coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks failed to score on three power plays, falling to 0 for 26 over their last nine games. They had more success on their penalty kill, when Toews set up Hossa for a short-handed score.The Wild have killed 27 of their last 28 penalties, spanning the last 11 games.

NOTES— Prosecutors in Illinois dropped revenge porn charges against Blackhawks minor leaguer Garret Ross, saying they had no jurisdiction in the matter. The Hawks suspended Ross over the accusations that he shared an image of a woman engaged in a sexual act without her consent. The team said Tuesday he was reinstated with the IceHogs. … Hossa is fourth in career goals among active NHL players. … Haula has a career-high 13 goals. His nine-game point streak is the longest active in the league. … According to the Wild, via the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time since the 1938-39 season that the Blackhawks lost every game to an opponent they played at least five times. … Niederreiter has a career-high 43 points, with six goals in the last nine games.

Valpo survives BYU to reach NIT Title Game

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NEW YORK—The biggest shot for Valparaiso in the Big Apple on Tuesday night came courtesy of an unexpected backup from Croatia.David Skara sank the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 20 seconds left and the Crusaders held off BYU 72-70 to reach the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament against George Washington.Alec Peters had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Crusaders, who will play for the title Thursday night at Madison Square Garden against George Washington, a 65-46 winner over San Diego State in the second semifinal.

”We’re playing for an NIT championship, which in my mind is almost better than getting to the first round of the NCAA Tournament and losing,” Peters said. ”So we’re still playing deep into the basketball season. We have a chance of winning our last game, which not very many teams get to say.”

Skara came off the bench to score a season-high 15 points, none bigger than his jumper that gave the top-seeded Crusaders (30-6) a 71-68 advantage after they had squandered a 16-point cushion.

”I thought we were really resilient tonight, especially when BYU made some late runs,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. ”Pretty much the whole second half, they were making runs at us.”

Kyle Collinsworth paced the second-seeded Cougars (26-11) with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in his final college game. Nick Emery scored 18 and Chase Fischer added 16.Fischer had his shot blocked, but scored on a putback with 7.4 seconds remaining to cut BYU’s deficit to one.Shane Hammink broke free behind the defense on the ensuing inbounds play, but fumbled the ball and was quickly fouled near the basket. He made one of two free throws with 4.7 seconds to go, then blocked Fischer’s long 3-point try at the buzzer to seal it.Keith Carter had 13 points for the Crusaders, who were playing in the NIT semifinals for the first time. Hammink, who assisted on Skara’s clutch 3, and Darien Walker each scored 10.After trailing by 16 early in the second half, BYU took its first lead at 64-63 when Collinsworth converted a three-point play with 4:26 remaining, revving up a loud contingent of Cougars fans.BYU went ahead again, 68-67, when Kyle Davis scored inside off a pass from Collinsworth with 1:18 left. Hammink hit one of two free throws a few seconds later to tie it. Collinsworth airballed a pull-up jumper, setting the stage for Skara, a sophomore forward who was averaging 6.4 points per game.Valparaiso opened a 15-point lead, its largest of the first half, with under a minute to go and went to the break up 44-30 after Hammink soared through the lane for a dunk.BYU also lost in the NIT semifinals three years ago. That game was against Baylor, coached by Scott Drew – the brother of Bryce Drew. Scott Drew also guided the Bears to a semifinal victory in 2009 over San Diego State.Valpo improved to 12-4 against teams from the West Coast Conference, including a 60-44 quarterfinal victory over Saint Mary’s. … Valparaiso, one of the nation’s toughest defensive teams, held the high-scoring Cougars 14 points below their season average. Coming in, the Crusaders were allowing 62.2 points per game. … The teams combined for 25 turnovers in a sluggish first half.The NIT championship game is Thursday night against George Washington.

Northern’s visit to Las Vegas, cut short by Gauchos

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LAS VEGAS—UC Santa Barbara hadn’t won a postseason game since the 1990 NCAA Tournament, when it defeated Houston in the first round.Michigan State, featuring a young guard named Mark Montgomery, eliminated the Gauchos, who went on to suffer through a 26-year dry spell without a postseason win.That drought ended Monday, at the expense of Montgomery’s Northern Illinois Huskies.In the opening round of the inaugural Vegas 16 Tournament at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Santa Barbara used a furious second-half rally to defeat the Huskies, 70-63.

“I think we played unbelievable basketball in the first half, but as I told them at halftime, you have to still close,” Montgomery said. “They started the second half making a run, and it seemed like we couldn’t defend without making a foul. And we struggled to score in the second half. It seemed like we couldn’t get consecutive baskets, which kind of hurt us.”

Freshman guard Marshawn Wilson led the Huskies with 14 points, while junior guard Aaric Armstead registered his fifth career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Levi Bradley added 10 points for Northern Illinois.While the Huskies limited Michael Bryson, who led the Big West in scoring with 18.4 points per game, to just nine points, Gabe Vincent erupted for 20, hitting 6 of 12 from the field, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range. Sam Beeler chipped in 16 points for the Gauchos. “In the second half we didn’t control the tempo and I think that was a major thing that we didn’t do,” Armstead said. “I think we did a pretty good job on Bryson, it was just a matter of some of the other players stepping up.” Trailing 43-32 at halftime, Santa Barbara (19-13 overall) opened the second half on a 9-2 run to cut Northern Illinois’ lead to four, 45-41. The Huskies (21-13) scored a quick three points to extend their lead to seven, but the Gauchos responded with a 5-0 run to pull within two, 48-46.The teams continued to trade baskets until the 6:16 mark, when Santa Barbara completed its comeback.And as the Gauchos used a 7-0 run to take their first lead since a 4-0 start to the game, NIU suffered through a 2 of 10 drought. The Huskies, who led by 15 with a little more than two minutes left in the first half, shot a dismal 25.9 percent (7 of 27) in the second half after opening the game hitting 51.9 percent (14 of 27) from the floor. “I thought we were taking decent shots, we rushed some, but the ball has to go in the basket if you’re going to advance in any tournament,” Montgomery said. “You coach player movement, ball movement – have some patience. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough of it. And they went on their run, but we didn’t get a chance to make our run.When you shoot 25 percent you need a lot of other things to go your way.” The Gauchos, who outscored Northern Illinois 32-24 in the paint, closed the game on a 6-0 run to ice the game after the Huskies pulled within one, 64-63, with 1:51 left on a 3-pointer by Wilson.The loss brings an end to Northern Illinois’ winningest season since 1990-91, when it won a school-record 25 games. The Huskies’ 21 wins are tied for the second-most in a single season in school history.


Atlanta drops Bulls, chances of Playoffs, slim.

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Jeff Teague and the Atlanta Hawks used a solid night at the line to turn away a big push by the Bulls.It was a nice little tune-up for the playoffs.Teague scored 26 points, including four free throws in the final 22.2 seconds, and the Hawks edged the Bulls 102-100 on Monday.

”You want to have some close games and execute and do some things defensively and offensively, feel the pressure a little bit and make some free throws,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. ”So it was good to find a way to win on the road in a close game.”

Al Horford had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, and Paul Millsap finished with 11 points and 11 boards. Dennis Schroder also scored 14 points.Atlanta (45-30) completed a season sweep of the Bulls with its fourth consecutive victory. The Hawks are sitting in third in the Eastern Conference, while the Bulls are in danger of missing the playoffs.

”We knew they were going to come out tonight and throw a big punch early, their season’s kind of on the line right now,” said Kyle Korver, who scored 12 points for the Hawks. ”We heard that they had a big meeting. They came out and really got on us early…. We were able to hold on and those are the things you got to do to make the playoffs.”

The Bulls (36-37) have lost four in a row and trail Detroit by 2 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. They had a team meeting over the weekend to address the slide, but shot just 38 percent against the Hawks.Atlanta went 8 for 8 at the line in the final minute. Korver and Thabo Sefolosha each hit two before Teague added two more with 6.6 seconds remaining, icing the game before Derrick Rose‘s meaningless 3-pointer for the Bulls at the very end.The Bulls trailed by as many as 15 in the second half, but had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. Mike Dunleavy missed a late layup and then fouled Teague, who went 8 for 8 at the line for the game.

”I like the way we competed tonight,” Rose said. ”We just have to keep it up. We are still fighting, still trying to find our rhythm.”

Rose finished with 20 points on 8-for-25 shooting. Pau Gasol had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Aaron Brooks scored 16 points.

”Yeah, we got to win,” said Jimmy Butler, who had 15 points. ”We’ve been in this position all year long. It’s an uphill fight. We’ve just got to keep battling.”

NOTES—Taj Gibson had nine points and 12 rebounds. … G E’Twaun Moore missed his sixth straight game because of a left hamstring injury. Coach Fred Hoiberg said he hoped Moore would be able to play by the end of the week. … The Bulls will play six of their final nine games on the road…..Atlanta went 25 for 28 at the line, including 10 of 12 in the fourth quarter. … Atlanta’s 4-0 record against the Bulls marks its first season sweep of the Bulls since 2008-2009, and only its second since the team moved to Atlanta before the 1968-69 season. … The Hawks have won 12 of their last 14…..The Bulls welcomed Kirk Hinrich, traded to Atlanta in February, back to the United Center with a video montage of Hinrich’s plays through the years in a Bulls uniform. Hinrich was drafted by the Bulls in 2003 and played for the Bulls until 2010 and then again from 2012 until earlier this season. Hinrich watched the video tribute and acknowledged an ovation from the Bulls fans….The Bulls are at Indiana on Tuesday

Late Ladd goal carries Hawks past Canucks to clinch 8th straight Playoff birth

VANCOUVER—Andrew Ladd scored the go-ahead goal with 2:27 left in the third period and the Blackhawks clinched their eighth straight playoff berth with a 3-2 victory over the skidding Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.Jonathan Toews stickhandled into the Canucks zone before dropping a pass in the high slot to Ladd, who fired in a one-timer for his 23rd goal this season and sixth in 13 games with the Hawks.Ladd was coming off a three-point night against Calgary on Saturday in which he scored two goals and added an assist.Trevor van Riemsdyk had two assists for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Tomas Fleischmann and Teuvo Teravainen also scored to help the Blackhawks improve to 44-25-7.Alex Burrows and Sven Baertschi scored for the Canucks, who have managed only seven goals during their eight-game losing streak. Emerson Etem had two assists.Scott Darling was again in goal for the Blackhawks.

ND season ends as N.Carolina is only #1 seed to Final 4

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PHILADELPHIA—Brice Johnson had 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead North Carolina to an 88-74 victory over Notre Dame on Sunday night, leaving the Tar Heels as the only No. 1 seed in the Final Four.The Tar Heels reached the Final Four for a record 19th time and the first since 2009, when they won the last of their five national championships.North Carolina (32-6) will face Syracuse, the 10th seed from the Midwest Regional, in another all-Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in the Final Four on Saturday in Houston. The Orange beat top-seeded Virginia 68-62.The halves were very different. In the first, the teams went shot for shot with both teams shooting over 58 percent and neither leading by more than six points.The second half was run for run and the Tar Heels, taking control of the boards, had the last and biggest one to seize control over the final 10 minutes.It was Johnson’s school-record 23rd double-double of the season.Marcus Paige added 13 points and Joel Berry II had 11 points and eight assists for North Carolina, which has won its four tournament games by an average of 15.4 points. The Tar Heels finished with a 32-15 rebound advantage, including 13-5 on the offensive end.Demetrius Jackson had 26 points and V.J. Beacham had 18 for sixth-seeded Notre Dame (24-12).

Darling and Ladd lead slumping Hawks to needed 4-1 win over Flames

CALGARY—Clutch performances from Andrew Ladd and Scott Darling led the slumping Blackhawks to an important victory on Saturday night.Ladd had two goals and an assist and Scott Darling made 31 saves to lead the Blackhawks to a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames.Mired in a 1-4-2 skid entering the game, the Blackhawks remain two points up on the hard-charging Nashville Predators for third in the Central Division.

”We’ve lost a ton of ground here and trying to get a win was the most important thing,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ”We’ve still got to be better, but we found a way to win, which was nice.”

Ladd’s first multipoint game with the Hawks(since 2010) gives him eight points in 12 games since the Blackhawks acquired the left-winger from Winnipeg just prior to the trade deadline.Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen also scored for the Blackhawks, who kicked off an important four-game trip.

”We know where we’re at in terms of the standings,” Ladd said. ”Nashville’s right on our heels and St. Louis is pulling away. We understand this road trip is a big road trip for us.”

Dougie Hamilton scored his career-high 11th goal for Calgary. Back home after three games on the road, the Flames head back out for a four-game trip beginning Monday in Arizona.The Hawks led 2-1 on Shaw’s 14th goal with 49 seconds remaining in the second period.Michael Rozsival spotted Shaw open at the side of the net and directed a hard slap-pass from the point diagonally through the slot that Shaw deflected behind Joni Ortio.Darling improved to 8-7-3. He was perfect after Hamilton’s goal in his fifth start in a row with Corey Crawford sidelined and not on the road trip.

”Darling was huge. He made some big-time saves. He fought through traffic to find pucks. He was lights out tonight,” Shaw said.

Darling was especially sharp in the second period when his 11 saves included several key stops to keep the game 1-1.It was a stellar bounce-back outing after being pulled after the first period last game against Dallas, when he allowed four goals on 15 shots.Ortio had 23 saves.Thed Hawks opened the scoring at 5:51 when TJ Brodie tried to go cross-ice in his own end and had it picked off in the slot by Ladd, who quickly whipped a high wrist shot under the crossbar.Calgary tied it at 12:47 on a great moment for the Hamilton brothers. Freddie Hamilton partially fanned on his shot from the slot but had the puck slide to his brother Dougie at the side of the net, and he directed it in the open side. Playing their fourth NHL game together, the two celebrated their first combined goal with an emotional hug in the corner.

”In junior there were a lot of those – Hamilton from Hamilton. We always enjoyed that, so to do it in the NHL is pretty cool,” said Dougie, the younger brother.

NOTES—Marcus Kruger (dislocated wrist) returned after missing 41 games. He bumped Dale Weise to the press box as a healthy scratch. … Deryk Engelland returned for the Flames after missing three games due to the birth of his second child. … Calgary’s Sam Bennett has gone 18 games without a goal. … Flames’ Mark Giordano played game No. 585, tying him with Gary Roberts for 9th in franchise history.

Orlando moves step closer to eliminating Bulls

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ORLANDO—The Bulls came into Saturday night’s game against Orlando needing to turn things around for their fading playoff chances.But it was the short-handed Magic, a team long out of the playoff hunt, who seemed to play with the sense of urgency the Bulls needed to have.Orlando, playing without leading scorers Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo, got points from a collection of role players – including a career-high 18 points and season-high 13 rebounds from Dewayne Dedmon – on the way to an impressive 111-89 win at the Amway Center that sent the Bulls to their third straight loss and put their playoff hopes in serious doubts.Bulls stars Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler had expressed their frustration with the late-season slide before Saturday night’s game. The Bulls’ display against another non-playoff team did little to calm things as they saw their chances to make up ground for the eighth and final playoff in the Eastern Conference take another blow.The Bulls are two games behind both Indiana and Detroit, which are tied for the last two spots in the conference. ”I sure hope not,” Bulls first-year coach Fred Hoiberg responded when asked if he thinks his team has quit on trying to make a playoff run.”Obviously, what I’m saying right now, my message isn’t getting across,” he added. ”We’re going to sit in a room and hopefully get it figured out tomorrow.” There is no denying the frustration among the Bulls’ players, who made mistake after mistake against the Magic. ”Obviously, we’re really struggling right now,” forward Mike Dunleavy said. ”We look like a team that’s lost in terms of doing the things you need to do. It’s a lot of stuff. We have to find our way. We’ve had success in the past, but it’s going to be tough right now.” The Bulls, however, insist they have not given up on the season despite what it looks like on the floor. ”I don’t think anybody’s quit,” shooting guard Jimmy Butler said. ”We’ve just hit adversity at the wrong time and we’ve got to fix it. It better carry over from in this locker room out to the court. That’s the only way to get this thing fixed. ”Nobody else can play basketball for us.” Aside from a brief run early in their third quarter, that reduced their 18-point halftime deficit to nine points, the Bulls (36-36) never seemed to play with much urgency. Taj Gibson was consistently strong in the paint, leading the Bulls with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting. But the other key Bulls players were mostly non-factors.Derrick Rose had an off night with just nine points on 4-of-14 shooting, while committing four turnovers. Butler had a quiet 12 points and Mike Dunleavy added 10 points.Pau Gasol, who missed Thursday night’s loss to the New York Knicks with continued swelling in his right knee, scored just seven points on 3-of-6 shooting while being completely outplayed by Dedmon.The Magic journeyman center looked much more the All-Star center as he dominated the paint. Dedmon, who teammates made a point of getting the ball inside to him early, exceeded his career high in the first half with 16 points to help lead the Magic to a 68-50 halftime lead. ”He was really active,” Magic coach Scott Skiles said. ”He was on the boards. He got some opportunities sometimes he might not normally get and was able to finish them.” Dedmon was far from the only Magic player who stepped up Saturday night. Point guard Elfrid Payton outplayed his much more celebrated counterpart, coming up with a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists against Rose and the Bulls other point guards.The Magic, which led by as many as 29 points, also received big contributions off the bench from forwards Jason Smith and Andrew Nicholson, who scored 14 points apiece. ”We’ve had a lot of halves, quarters where we’re very energetic, see each other,” said Skiles, whose team improved to 30-43. ”We played unselfishly tonight. We did it very well.” Meanwhile, Hoiberg seemed at a loss for what to do to get things turned around as the season heads into the final stretch. ”It’s hard to say,” he said. ”They’re locked in at shootaround. They’re getting after it. They’re paying attention to what we’re doing, then we go out there and get slapped in the face. It just spirals downhill.” Gasol returned to the lineup, but remained on a minutes restriction.Bulls: host Atlanta on Monday night.

Bulls turn in another dud against lowly Knicks

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NEW YORK—The New York Knicks are playing spoiler – at the Bulls‘ expense.Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points, Kristaps Porzingis had 19 and the Knicks beat the Bulls 106-94 on Thursday night to sweep the home-and-home series.Derrick Williams added 13 points, Jose Calderon 12, and Arron Afflalo 11 for New York. The Knicks beat the Bulls 115-107 on Wednesday night in the United Center. ”We want to win every game possible to finish out the season,” Williams said. ”If those wins mean other teams don’t get into the playoffs, that’s fine with us. With so many games left, we want to be the spoiler right now.” Derrick Rose led with 30 points. Jimmy Butler had 19, and Taj Gibson 10. ”I don’t want to criticize anybody, like trash teams – everybody is in the NBA for a reason,” Gibson said. ”But we’re playing against teams that are not playing for anything and we’re just laying down.” The Bulls are 1 1/2 games behind Detroit for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They led only one time in the game – at 8-7 on Gibson’s short jumper. ”These are two extremely tough losses,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”I wish I could tell you it was one thing. If we want to have any chance of competing and playing after the regular season we have to find ways to get stops.” The Knicks then used an 18-8 run to take their biggest lead of the opening quarter, 25-16 on Sasha Vujacic‘s 3-pointer with 4:07 remaining. The Bulls scored the next six points and the Knicks led 31-27 entering the second quarter.Anthony scored 10 points, and Vujacic had all of his nine in the period. ”We knew that they would come in and try and get it going from the beginning,” Vujacic said. ”We just wanted to start the right way. We got ourselves going, and when we play like that we are very dangerous.” The Knicks opened up another nine-point lead, 36-27, on Afflalo’s short jumper with 9:51 left in the second quarter. Again the Bulls responded by scoring the next six points.But, the Knicks then used a 9-3 run to again open a nine-point lead, 45-36, on Calderon’s 3-pointer with 4:43 left in the first half.The Bulls cut it to 47-45 on Gibson’s layup with 2:34 remaining, but Porzingis followed with back-to-back 3s and the Knick took a 53-45 lead into halftime. ”He (Porzingis) is trailing sometimes and his man is back in the paint. He becomes a threat and he can make those shots,” Anthony said. The Knicks scored the first four points of the second half and increased their lead to 14 points on several occasions before Afflalo’s buzzer-beating jumper gave New York an 80-65 lead after the third quarter.The Knicks went up by a game-high 17 points, 100-83, on Anthony’s 3-pointer with 3:29 left in the game and the Bulls never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.The Bulls have made at least 10 3-pointers 16 times this season. That is the second-most in franchise history since the 3-point line was incorporated in 1979-80, trailing only last season’s squad with 21. … The Bulls lead the series with the Knicks 118-100, but is 43-58 at Madison Square Garden.Robin Lopez is the only Knicks player to start all 73 games. … New York has completed all 17 back-to-backs this season, finishing 8-9. … The Knicks finished 3-1 against the Bulls this season. Last season, they went 0-4.Pau Gasol did not suit up due to inflammation in his right knee. He played 25 minutes and only scored four points in Wednesday night’s loss to the Knicks.The Knicks held the Bulls to 41.6 percent shooting (37-89) from the field and only 24 percent (6-25) from 3-point range. ”I thought we did a pretty good job defensively,” Knicks coach Kurt Rambis said. ”They struggled shooting the ball from outside and I like to think our defense had something to do with that.” The Bulls play at Orlando on Saturday.