NEW YORK -- The Bulls and Knicks both have their minds on trades as much as games.
There was basketball to be played, though, and Chicago handled that better the last two nights.
With trade rumors swirling around both teams, the Bulls rallied from a 15-point deficit to move above .500 at 27-26 and hand the Knicks their fifth straight loss.
The Knicks completed one deal Wednesday night they hoped would set them up for something bigger, while Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro got a call before the game telling him to leave guard John Salmons in the hotel, a clear indication they were close to a deal.
"It's never easy, you know, especially when you're dealing with very good people with high character, but it's part of the business and guys understand that," Del Negro said.
"You just hope when these things come about, it works out for both sides and both parties are happy. Doesn't always work that way, the way the economy is now and things going on in the league. We can only control what we can and what's best for the organization."
Al Harrington scored 27 points, and Wilson Chandler had 26 for the Knicks. David Lee had 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points but was just 2 of 10 from 3-point range, including a pair of costly misses with a chance to tie in the final minute.
Chicago outscored New York 62-45 in the second half to win a game that was much closer than its 118-85 rout at United Center on Tuesday night.
"We came out more aggressive," Rose said of the turnaround. "In the first half, we weren't contesting their shots how we were supposed to, like yesterday, and they were getting wide-open looks. In the second half, we were contesting their shots, rebounding the ball and playing our regular uptempo-type game."
The Knicks played without Nate Robinson, who they said was home with flulike symptoms. However, various reports earlier Wednesday said the team was nearing a deal to send the backup guard to Boston, and an official within the league said the trade would be completed Thursday.
Starting forward Jared Jeffries also played only 6 minutes before he left with what the Knicks said was a sore right knee. He has been mentioned in a rumored trade with Houston for Tracy McGrady, but team president Donnie Walsh declined comment on specifics of any of his uncompleted deals, saying all the reports of a deal with the Rockets were a "one-way pipeline" coming out of Houston.
New York did complete one deal, sending the unhappy Darko Milicic to Minnesota for Brian Cardinal. The deal would open a roster spot for the Knicks to make another trade Thursday if they waive Cardinal, as expected.
Walsh wouldn't say if he planned to keep Cardinal, saying, "I think that'll be clearer if things work out" Thursday.
New York led by two after three quarters, but Jannero Pargo opened the fourth with a 3-pointer that gave Chicago the lead for good and kicked off a 9-0 run that made it 91-84 on a follow dunk by Tyrus Thomas with 9:12 remaining.
The Knicks cut it to three on Lee's jumper with 49 seconds to play and had chances to tie on their next possession, but Gallinari missed a pair of 3-pointers. New York got the rebound again after a scramble but Rose stole a pass. Miller was fouled and made a free throw to make it 113-109 with 6.4 seconds left.
The first quarter was more competitive than Tuesday's game was. There were 12 lead changes in the period, with Toney Douglas tossing in an off-balance 3-pointer as time expired to give New York a 27-25 lead.
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said the Knicks showed energy and if "they keep that attitude, then we'll get better as a team and we'll put some wins on."
Douglas made another 3-pointer to extend the lead to 11 with 8:46 left in the second, and the lead grew to 15 late in the half before the Knicks took a 64-53 lead into the break.
The Bulls turned it around in the third quarter behind 13 points from Miller a surge from Rose. He scored six during a 12-2 spurt that trimmed a 12-point deficit to 80-78 on Kirk Hinrich's layup, and the Knicks' lead was only 84-82 after three.
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