9 In A Row
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New York vs
94 - 102
Record: 29-46
Stephon Marbury looking for an open man (AP Photo)
Stephon Marbury looking for an open man (AP Photo)
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Chicago Bulls are treating every game like the playoffs, something the New York Knicks can only dream about.

Ben Gordon scored 22 points and Kirk Hinrich added 20 to help the Chicago Bulls hand the New York Knicks their ninth straight loss, 102-94 Friday night.

"It's important to be playing like that down the stretch because those are the types of efforts it's going to take during the playoffs," Gordon said. "None of the games in the playoffs are going to be easy or be blowouts. You've got to be able to keep your composure to win games."

Stephon Marbury had 29 points for the Knicks, who were mathematically eliminated from the Eastern Conference race during halftime when the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-98.

"It's been there for a while," Kurt Thomas said of the reality of not making the playoffs. "Very disappointing.

"Guys were competing, guys were fighting. They had a few more weapons."

Adrian Griffin had 16 points and Antonio Davis added 12 for the Bulls, who took the lead for good in the fourth on Jannero Pargo's 3-pointer for an 85-82 advantage.

"Last year, we were in a lot of games late," Pargo said. "Sometimes in the fourth quarter we would break down and crumble, and that's when teams would make their run and beat us.

"Now, we're starting to make our run and make a push on teams late to get victories."

Jamal Crawford finished with 22 points on 8-of-22 shooting against his former team, while Thomas had 10 points and 16 rebounds.

Both teams traded bad shots and turnovers in the fourth quarter before Chicago took the lead. Marbury started the period on the bench while Crawford played the point. Three error-filled minutes allowed the Bulls to take an 80-79 lead before Marbury returned, and the Knicks never regained momentum.

"It wasn't a pretty game," Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. "I don't feel like either team played well. We were able to get stops when the game was on the line. I thought we were out of gas, but we found a way to rally."

Hinrich scored 14 of his points in the second half, and his open jumper increased the Bulls' lead to 93-88. Hinrich then rebounded Marbury's miss and found Gordon for a running jumper with 1:21 left, forcing New York into quick shots and fouls.

"We've been doing that this year. Get down to the last four or five minutes and we kind of get an extra burst of energy," Hinrich said. "We just keep playing. We play to win. Last year, I felt like we were playing not to lose. Now we just go out, stay aggressive and keep playing."

Tyson Chandler couldn't keep playing after scratching his eye in the third quarter. He did not return and had the eye bandaged after the game.

"It is a little uncertain how he is right now," Skiles said. "I am a little concerned about that."

The Knicks led by 13 points in the first quarter, but the Bulls looked revitalized once their reserves took the floor. Gordon, Pargo and Chandler entered the game with 5:51 left and Chicago immediately started chipping away at the Knicks' lead.

Gordon had 14 points in the first half, Griffin scored 12 points in the second quarter alone, and Pargo's 3-pointer with 3:07 left in the first half gave the Bulls a 48-45 lead.

But Marbury stripped Griffin on the final possession, dribbled the clock down and found Crawford for a 3-pointer for a 55-54 lead at the half.

Chicago F Eddy Curry missed his fifth straight game because of an irregular heartbeat and did not travel with the team. ... Knicks F Tim Thomas did not dress because of a sore left knee. ... New York has lost nine of its last 11 games to Chicago.

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