Dennis Smith Jr. scored 25 points and Kevin Knox and Luke Kornet both notched double-doubles to lead the New York Knicks past the host Chicago Bulls 96-86 on Tuesday night in the penultimate regular season game for both teams.
Knox had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Kornet chipped in 12 points and 13 rebounds and Damyean Dotson added 12 points for the Knicks. Mitchell Robinson snagged a game-high 17 rebounds.
The Bulls (22-59) closed the home portion of their schedule with a 9-32 record, setting a franchise record for home-court futility. The 2000-01 team held the previous club standard for fewest home victories with 10.
Chicago came within six points of New York with 4:18 to play but was unable to draw closer down the stretch. Ryan Arcidiacono scored 14 points to lead five Bulls in double figures. Shaquille Harrison was next with 13 points, while Robin Lopez (12), JaKarr Sampson (11) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (10) followed.
Already assured of the NBA’s worst record, the Knicks (17-64) can do no worse than tie the franchise record for fewest wins in a regular season, set in 2014-15. A victory against the visiting Detroit Pistons in Wednesday’s regular season finale would keep the Knicks clear of the mark.
New York led 57-50 at halftime as Chicago gradually recovered from a 20-point first quarter deficit. The Knicks surged to a 35-15 advantage after Kornet drilled a 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Knicks found success from the inside in the early going, outscoring the Bulls 13-4 in the first 3:34 behind a series of layups and short jumpers. New York owned a 34-22 edge on the class in the first half while shooting 49 percent (24-for-49) compared to 35.6 percent (16-for-45) for Chicago.
A torrid first quarter put the Knicks on the right track. Entering the game ranked 28th in the NBA in scoring and 30th in shooting, New York scored 39 first-quarter points on 61.5 percent shooting.
Chicago will look to avoid the franchise’s first 60-loss campaign since 2001-02 when it closes the regular season at Philadelphia on Wednesday night.