The New York Knicks fell apart after a Christmas Day loss a season ago and they will be hard-pressed to avoid a duplicate performance this time around. The Knicks look to snap a two-game slide when they open a three-game road trip at the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
The contest kicks off a stretch in which New York plays 16 of 20 on the road - where it is 2-10 - and it enters the span trying to recover from a 105-98 loss to Philadelphia at home on Christmas. “It’s going to be very hard to win on the road,” center Enes Kanter told reporters. “That’s it. Because, obviously, we play really well at home. I think we just need the same energy on the road, as obviously when we play at home, the whole crowd, they give us so much energy. We need to have the same energy on the bench at the road.” The Bulls were able to snap a two-game skid of their own with an impressive 115-106 win at Milwaukee on Tuesday. Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points as Chicago improved to 8-2 since he made his season debut earlier this month.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), NBCSN Chicago
ABOUT THE KNICKS (17-16): Kanter was a force in the loss to Philadelphia with a season-high 31 points and a career high-tying 22 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive end. Meanwhile, 7-3 star Kristaps Porzingis scored 22 points but needed 19 shots to get there, which left him with a 6-for-30 mark from the floor over the last two home games. “I think it’s also I’m just learning a lot,” he told reporters. “All these games, every game I’m learning and I’m seeing all kinds of defenses, late double team, early double team right away.”
ABOUT THE BULLS (11-22): Kris Dunn rebounded from a rocky showing in a lopsided loss at Boston (two points on 1-of-12 shooting) to score 20 on 9-of-17 in the win over Milwaukee. He also handed out 12 assists and recorded four steals, giving the second-year pro averages of 8.7 and 2.3 in those two categories, respectively, over his last seven games. Chicago is 1-5 in the second half of back-to-backs this season while losing by an average of nearly 13 points.
1. Knicks SG Courtney Lee has hit all 31 of his foul shots over the last 13 games.
2. Mirotic is averaging 21.8 points on 56.5 percent shooting and 8.6 rebounds in five home games.
3. Porzingis missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer as Chicago took the first meeting 104-102 on Dec. 9 at home.
PREDICTION: Bulls 106, Knicks 103