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Bulls Vs. Knicks: Chicago Looking To Avoid First Losing Streak Of The Season

The Chicago Bulls (18-6) face a struggling New York Knicks (8-13) squad at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls dropped the front end of an East Coast back-to-back against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, but will look to avoid their first losing streak of the season -- and since February 7th of last year -- when they tip off against the dysfunctional New York Knicks on Thursday. In recent weeks, the big three blueprint in New York has come under fire, but after dropping nine of 10 games during a stretch in January, the Knicks are hoping they have finally turned the corner and are ready to compete for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Bulls have been playing such good basketball that their 98-it's82 road loss to the now 16-6 Sixers qualifies as a big disappointment in an otherwise impressive 18-6 season. What really bothered the Bulls was the defensive intensity from the well-rounded unit in Philly, as was explained by the staff at Blog a Bull:

A lot was made during the home telecast of the mirror image the Bulls were looking at all night, in that the Doug Collins-led squad was built to defend and hustle on every possession just like the Bulls are known for. But while the Bulls have advantages in shotblocking, scheme, and discipline, the Sixers excel in creating havoc on the perimeter. Using Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams speed, and supplemented by their athletic, long wings, they were able to harass Derrick Rose farther out from the basket than most teams can try while also being able to close out and frustrate the Bulls shooters.

The good for the Bulls is that the Knicks are ranked No. 11 in defensive efficiency and No. 24 on offense, which is a big dropoff from Philly's marks of No. 1 and No. 5, respectively. Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are both expected to play for NY, while Richard Hamilton is out for the Bulls and defensive anchor Luol Deng is expected to make his return after missing the last six games.

Here is some basic information to help you find the game on Thursday night:

Game day/time: 8:00 PM ET, February 2, 2012

Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

TV: TNT

For updates on the matchup, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For more in-depth coverage, visit Blog a Bull and Posting and Toasting. And for more news and notes from around the NBA, head over to SB Nation's NBA news hub.