Bulls hand Knicks franchise-record 60th loss in 111-80 romp
CHICAGO (AP) -- Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points, Pau Gasol added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls handed the Knicks their franchise-record 60th loss, beating New York 111-80 Saturday night.
A night after tying the team's previous single-season loss mark, the Knicks dropped their seventh straight and 14th in 16 games.
Jimmy Butler scored 18 for Chicago.
The rookie Mirotic had another strong game, finishing five points shy of his career high. Gasol recorded his league-leading 48th double-double as Chicago won for the fifth time in six games.
The Bulls, who led by 20 at halftime, fell four points short of their most lopsided victory of the season. They pulled within two games of Central Division leader Cleveland and moved 1 1/2 games ahead of fourth-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference.
Andrea Bargnani led New York with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the "Double Nickel Game" that saw Michael Jordan score 55 points at Madison Square Garden, a masterpiece that announced he still was the game's greatest player after two years away from basketball. He finished off that game with an assist to Bill Wennington, giving the Bulls a 113-111 victory.
In this one, Chicago stomped on the Knicks almost as soon as they stepped on the court.
Gasol scored 11 in the first quarter and 13 in the half as the Bulls grabbed a 54-34 lead. Mirotic hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 in the half, while Butler and Aaron Brooks each scored 10.
The Bulls led 28-17 after hitting 12 of 21 shots in the first quarter and they put this one away after the Knicks closed within eight with 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the second. Chicago outscored New York 19-7 the rest of the half to turn a 35-27 edge to a 20-point gulf at the break.
Mirotic finished a 10-1 spurt with a 3 as the shot clock wound down to make it 45-28 with 4:29 remaining. A 3 by Brooks and two free throws by Gasol made it 54-32 before Bargnani drove for a layup with 26 seconds left to make it a 20-point game.
Knicks: The 1962-63, 1985-86, 2005-06 and 2007-08 teams lost 59 games. ... F Travis Wear (sore lower back) remains day to day.
Bulls: Coach Tom Thibodeau said a nine-man rotation in the playoffs is possible if the Bulls are healthy. But he acknowledged that's a big "if." "That's been our question mark all year," he said. Only 19 times this season have the Bulls had their projected starting five in the lineup, and they're waiting for Derrick Rose to return from a minor operation on his right knee. Thibodeau said the former MVP point guard is doing "just about everything" in practice except taking contact. ... F Doug McDermott (sore back) sat out the game.
Knicks: Host Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Bulls: Visit Milwaukee on Wednesday.