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Bulls remain in first

Despite an overtime loss to the New York Knicks this weekend, the Bulls would have the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs if the season ended today.

The Bulls erased a 21-point deficit but lost, 100-99, in overtime Sunday at New York's Madison Square Garden. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose returned after missing the previous 12 games because of a strained right groin, but he appeared rusty in almost 39 minutes of playing time.

Rose scored 29 points but shot only 8-for-26 from the field. He also committed eight turnovers to go along with four assists, one steal and one blocked shot.

The loss dropped the Bulls' record to 43-14 with nine games remaining in the regular season. The Bulls' lead over the second-place Miami Heat dwindled to two games.

The NBA's playoff picture should come into greater focus this week.

1. Bulls, 43-142. Miami, 40-15 (2.0 games behind)3. Indiana, 34-224. Boston, 32-245. Atlanta, 34-236. Orlando, 33-237. New York, 29-278. Philadelphia, 29-27***9. Milwaukee, 28-28

The Bulls will not have to wait long to try to avenge their loss to the Knicks this weekend. They will host the Knicks at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in their next game, which will be followed by a home game against the Heat on Thursday and a road game against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

-Tom Musick

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