Deng shines as Bulls beat Knicks

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New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, right, attempts to drive to the basket as he is guarded by Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng, of Sudan, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

NEW YORK – Luol Deng scored 33 points in Chicago’s 108-101 NBA win over the Knicks in New York Friday, with Derrick Rose’s appearance on the practice court raising hopes of even better things to come.

Deng’s 33 point tally was his best of the season, improving on the 29 the British forward scored in a four-point Bulls victory against the Knicks on December 21.

“Honestly it’s not about the scoring,” he said. “I just want to play well. I score for the team, but I don’t go out trying to get big numbers. I never focus on one thing.”

Carlos Boozer scored 17 points and Richard Hamilton added 14 for the Bulls, who never trailed and are now 3-0 against the Knicks this season.

“It feels great,” said Chicago’s Joakim Noah. “Everybody’s locked in when we play the Knicks.”

Chicago’s victory spoiled the return of Knicks star Carmelo Anthony after he served a one-game suspension for confronting Boston forward Kevin Garnett after Monday’s 102-96 defeat in New York.

Anthony finished with 39 points on 14-of-32 shooting but couldn’t prevent the Knicks from dropping a third straight game.

Chicago dominated most of the game, and even after the Knicks engineered a 12-0 scoring run late in the fourth quarter the Bulls were able to hang on.

Even before the victory, the Bulls had reason to be pleased as Rose, the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player, took part in the pre-game shoot-around, stretching with his teammates and firing off some jump shots.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose, who has been sidelined since he tore a knee ligament in the first game of the playoffs last April, is “getting closer” to being able to be exposed to contact in practice.

And he said the young star, who is expected back after the mid-February All-Star break, is coping admirably with the rehab process.

“He’s a great team player. He’s mentally strong, has a great will,” Thibodeaux said. “He understands what he has to go through.”

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