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Knicks hold off Bulls for fourth straight win

NEW YORK (AP) – The NBA’s leading scorer in fourth quarters kept coming at them and the New York Knicks wouldn’t buckle.

They finally stopped DeMar DeRozan in the final minute, continuing a winning run that’s likely too late to save their season but they feel is important nonetheless.

“The big thing is we’re playing all these young guys and they’re getting valuable experience, and you’re never eliminated until you’re eliminated,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So I don’t want a quitting spirit in our team.”

RJ Barrett scored 28 points, Alec Burks had 27 and the Knicks beat the Chicago Bulls 109-104 on Monday night for their fourth straight victory.

Obi Toppin had 17 points for the Knicks, who remained four-and-a-half games behind Atlanta for 10th place in the Eastern Conference and the final play-in spot with only six games remaining. But they’d rather keep trying for that, as unlikely as it is, than lose a few more games to potentially better their draft position. “First of all, we fight, so that’s not an option for us. We fight no matter what,” Barrett said.

Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan shoots over New York Knicks’ forward Obi Toppin. PHOTO: AP

DeRozan scored 37 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. But he missed a jumper and then was called for an offensive foul in the final 45 seconds, cutting short Chicago’s comeback attempt.

Toppin played most of the fourth quarter and had eight points in the period. His dunk while being fouled led to a three-point play and an 89-79 advantage early in the period but DeRozan, who has 573 points in the fourth quarter this season, kept Chicago from ever falling too far behind.

His three-point play cut it to 104-103 with 1:17 left, but after his missed jumper Burks knocked down a three-pointer from the corner to make it 107-103 with 22 seconds to go.

Randle then hit two free throws after DeRozan’s offensive foul to put it away.