Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks (-6.5, 188.5)
The New York Knicks have received plenty of deserved praise for their hot start while the Chicago Bulls have quietly been lurking around the top of the Central Division, staking their claim as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference even without Derrick Rose. The Bulls will try to gain some recognition when they visit the Knicks on Friday. Chicago beat New York at home on Dec. 8 and has won six of its last eight games overall.
The Knicks trounced the Brooklyn Nets at home on Wednesday to gain a leg up on the city rivalry while maintaining their spot as the top team in the East. Carmelo Anthony returned from a two-game absence and scored 31 points in the victory. Anthony sat out the 93-85 loss at the Bulls earlier this month due to a finger injury and New York struggled to find any offense while shooting 32.1 percent. Chicago has been taking a lot of teams out of their rhythm lately and ranks second in the league in points allowed (90.3).
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, CSCH (Chicago), MSG (New York), NBATV
ABOUT THE BULLS (14-10, 9-15 ATS): Chicago is still lacking a go-to-scorer with Rose on the shelf but has gotten strong play from the likes of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. Noah recorded his first career triple-double in a home win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday and Boozer and Luol Deng each scored 21 points. The Bulls have gotten sparks on offense from Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli as well, but still win with their defense. Chicago has allowed only one of its last 14 opponents to reach 100 points, and that was in a 108-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 7. Of course, they bounced back from that performance by stifling the Knicks. Deng and Belinelli scored 22 points apiece while Noah and Boozer each recorded double-doubles in that win.
ABOUT THE KNICKS (19-6, 15-10 ATS): With Anthony sidelined, Raymond Felton ended up as the focal point of the offense in Chicago and ended up taking 30 shots (connecting on nine). New York featured a more balanced attack earlier this week without Anthony but was glad to have its MVP candidate back on Wednesday. He went 12-of-22 from the field and did not appear limited in 36 minutes of a 100-86 triumph. The Knicks have gone 5-1 since that loss in Chicago, reaching the century mark in each victory. One benefit of Anthony’s recent absence was to Chris Copeland, who got the bulk of the playing time and proved he belonged. Back to the bench Wednesday, Copeland provided a spark with eight points and could be a nice complement to J.R. Smith on the second unit.
* Home team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.
* Under is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings in New York.
* Bulls are 2-5 ATS in the last 7 meetings in New York.
* Underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.
1. Anthony is averaging 26.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in 21 career games against the Bulls.
2. Robinson, who spent his first 4 1/2 seasons with the Knicks, hit a season-high five 3-pointers on Tuesday and is shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc in his last six games.
3. Smith has scored at least 15 points in each of the last seven games for New York.