This is becoming routine and worrisome for the Bulls.
The Bulls won their 11th in their last 12 games and sixth in their last seven on the road Friday night when they beat the New York Knicks 102-94.
"Guys were able to make some big plays when we needed them," said Ben Gordon, who led the Bulls with 22 points. "We were able to pull away with the win."
But at what cost?
Tyson Chandler was hit in the eye with a stray hand from Jerome Williams and suffered a severe scratch. Chandler wore a patch over his left eye after the game and wasn't sure he could play Saturday night against Toronto.
Chandler, who led the Bulls with nine rebounds and four blocks, had just finished a sequence of consecutive blocks that forced the Knicks into a 24-second violation with the Bulls hanging onto a 91-88 lead.
"I went to block Jerome's shot and he swung with his off arm and scratched my eye," Chandler said. "They said it was the cornea. I can't open my eye because the light burns. There's a fuzz, a blur. I'm glad we got the victory, but I didn't know what the score was. I couldn't see. I couldn't get my eye open."
The Bulls played well down the stretch in holding Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford to 2 of 9 shooting in the fourth quarter.
With the Bulls hanging onto a three-point lead with two minutes left after Chandler went out, Kirk Hinrich shadowed Marbury into a forced jumper in the lane at the 24-second buzzer. After a Gordon jump-shot basket in the lane, the Bulls ran Crawford into a wild, spinning jumper that missed and Gordon finished New York off. He shot by Marbury for a foul and clinching free throws.
"Our defense tightened up," said Hinrich, who had 20 points. "It has been a strength of ours. The last four, five minutes of games we've been able to get the job done. Step back and think about it. How young we all are. To play like we do down the stretch and tough-out road wins like this is impressive."
This was the Bulls' third road game in four nights and they won it even though they fell behind double digits in the first quarter.
With the victory the Bulls solidified their hold on the fourth playoff seed and moved within one game of clinching a playoff berth. Indiana also won Friday night so the Pacers moved into a tie for fifth place in the East that would be good for a first-round date with the Bulls.
The Bulls fell behind early with what coach Scott Skiles said was a pattern of lax defense. The team then rallied quickly as it had Wednesday night at Orlando.
The Bulls' shooting was poor as the Knicks went on a 15-0 run behind Crawford and Marbury to take a 21-8 lead seven minutes into the game. The Knicks rely almost exclusively on their quick shooting guards with an occasional bailout pass to Kurt Thomas for a jumper. Everyone else: Get ready to rebound.
The Bulls rallied behind Gordon and Adrian Griffin, who had 12 points in the second quarter and a season-high 16 points in 32 minutes.
"I guess I was feeling it," Griffin said. "[Madison Square] Garden is the best place to play. We have a few guys out and I was just trying to help out."
After the Bulls climbed to within 55-54 at halftime, Crawford and Hinrich engaged in a mini shootout in the third quarter as the Knicks went into the fourth leading 77-76.
"They should take that game to the Hall of Fame and run it on a constant loop so the fans could enjoy it over and over," Skiles joked. "[Neither] team played well but once again, when then game was on the line, we were able to get to get stops, get to the line, make a couple shots. We were a little out of gas but we were able to rally again."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times