Three games, three wins. As the Chicago Bulls continue to rise through the ranks of the Eastern Conference without an actual go to guy (this time it was Luol Deng), the New York Knicks are in somewhat of a free fall compared to the early days of the season. The Bulls having the Knicks’ number only makes things worse.

For the second straight time between the two teams, the Chicago Bulls allowed the Knicks to score over 100 points and still won the game. Against most teams and on most nights, when the Bulls’ defense doesn’t get the stops its used to, their offense isn’t enough to keep up. But the New York Knicks, losing three straight and five of their last seven games, have lost their defensive authority of the season, struggling to keep teams like the Bulls from running and succeeding against them.

Even the return of Carmelo Anthony, who went right back to work after his one-game suspension, finishing with 39 points in a game that didn’t look like it had a single Knicks attack that didn’t go through Anthony, didn’t help the Knicks, who had a very bad day from the field (41.1%) and find it hard to get their defense back to where it was earlier this season, especially now that Marcus Camby is injured.

Deng had his best night of the season with 33 points (13-18 from the field), enjoying Carmelo Anthony looking a lot more ordinary on defense than what the praises were talking about earlier this season. As his scoring achievements continue to impress, it looks like the effort he had while defending earlier in the season is all but gone, and the selfishness on offense while taking plays off defensively are back to be a major part of his game.

I think it was a big game. A lot of people watching and everybody was saying the Knicks were going to get revenge for what happened last time, nah, nah, nah. And we came back, held it down again.

These are happy times for Chicago, who have improved to 20-14, winning four of their last five games, including in Miami and New York. The news of Derrick Rose closer to his comeback and probably seeing him do more and more in practice every day have some sort of positive influence on the team.

We’ve showed it this year, when we really focus and lock in, whoever we play we’ve been able to play with them, all the top teams, play them close whether we win or lose. We know that when we show up, and you know, stick to the game plan, we can really play with anyone in this league.

And that’s been the key for the Bulls this season – always stay in the game, even in the losing efforts. Except for getting blown away by the Rockets on Christmas, the Bulls make it very difficult to beat them, as long as their defense doesn’t fall apart, and their motivation stays in tact. A lot of that depends on Deng and Noah, the leaders of this team, but also on Carlos Boozer, who can be a tad helpful on defense and obviously more than that offensively when he’s in a good mood, finishing with 17 points against the Knicks.

A few wins in a short time span have certainly changed the mood for the Bulls, and all the talk of trading or even using the amnesty clause on Boozer aren’t really in the air at the moment. Back in the hunt with a wide open East and returning Derrick Rose, there’s plenty to be looking forward to in Chicago.

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