Suddenly, Chicago is the place where long winning streaks go to die.
This time, it was Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks going down. Late last month, it was LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Nate Robinson scored a season-high 35 points and Chicago rallied for a 118-111 overtime victory to stop New York’s 13-game run. Anthony missed a potential winner at the end of regulation, and Robinson took over down the stretch, scoring eight points in overtime to lift the Bulls to another streak-breaking win on a charged night that had the feel of a postseason game.
“Crazy. Playoff atmosphere, to tell you the truth, against a playoff team,” Chicago’s Jimmy Butler said. “I feel like it’s helping us.”
Butler finished with 22 points, Luol Deng scored 16, and the Bulls busted a long run for the second time in about a two-week span, after ending the Heat’s 27-game streak — the second-longest in NBA history — on March 27.
They put the Knicks’ longest streak in nearly two decades to rest with a huge surge in the second half, offsetting Anthony’s 36 points.
“For us, we’re not focused on stopping streaks,” Robinson said. “We’re just trying to get better as a team going into the playoffs.”
Robinson appears to be in gear. He’s scored 18 or more in four straight games, and he put the Bulls over the top against his former team after two ugly losses to Detroit and Toronto.
In the end, all the Knicks could do was shrug it off.
“It would have been nice if Melo knocks down that shot,” Woodson said. “We could have walked out of here with a win. It didn’t happen.”
Robinson started overtime with a three-point play to give Chicago a 108-105 lead, and after Anthony scored, the Bulls started to pull away.
Deng nailed a 3-pointer, and Robinson hit a free throw after J.R. Smith got called for a technical foul with 2:09 remaining for arguing a non-call against Deng on a missed drive. The Bulls guard then drove for a layup to make it 114-107, and Chicago hung on from there.
Chicago trailed by as much as 17 points and was down 79-64 in the third quarter before going on a big run to get back into it.
The Bulls were even up by nine — 99-90 — after a 3 by Robinson and layup by Butler with 5:42 remaining, but they did not get another basket in regulation.
The Knicks finally tied it at 105 with 14.5 seconds left when a driving Anthony got fouled by Butler and hit both free throws.
Deng then missed an off-balance fadeaway bank shot with 1.5 seconds left in regulation. New York’s Raymond Felton grabbed the rebound, and after a 20-second timeout, Anthony’s long jumper hit the rim and it went into overtime.
The loss ended the Knicks’ longest win streak since a 15-game run from March 1 to April 2, 1994, and left them two games ahead of Indiana for the second seed in the Eastern Conference with four games remaining. New York plays the Pacers on Sunday.
“The crazy thing is they’re only getting better,” Chicago’s Carlos Boozer said. “The more talent they put around (Anthony), the better his team is. This year, they went from being kind of a mediocre team in the East the last few years to … top in the East for a very long time.”
Anthony, trying to become the first Knicks player since Bernard King in 1984-85 to win a scoring title, was off target. He hit just 13 of 34 shots after averaging 40.6 points in the previous five games.
Smith scored 28 points and Felton added 19, but the Bulls hung on down the stretch in OT to complete the four-game sweep.
“They can have it,” Anthony said. “They can have it. They can have it. They can have the regular-season wins. They did a great job at beating us four times. We’re not worrying about them at this point.”
The win left fifth-place Chicago a half-game ahead of Atlanta in the East, and they can thank Robinson for that. He beat his previous season high by a point.
Deng finished with 16 points after sitting out the previous two games with a hip injury.
Butler came up big after scoring a career-high 28 in Tuesday’s loss to Toronto. He ignited the crowd with back-to-back breakaway dunks in the third that got the turnaround started and helped defend Anthony.
“You want to go up against the best,” Butler said. “You don’t back down from things like this. You want to accept those challenges. You don’t back down from things like that. He’s a great player.”