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SKILES ON RUNNING UP SCORE: PURE BULL

By BRIAN LEWIS

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April 13, 2007 -- Chicago coach Scott Skiles still vehemently denies running the score up in the Bulls' 98-69 rout of the Knicks on Tuesday. Skiles acknowledged, however, Malik Allen's shot with less than 10 seconds left was against NBA etiquette, understood why it angered Steve Francis, and took blame for it.

"If there was a situation, it was more than likely my fault," Skiles said at yesterday's practice. "We had the ball with 2:56 to go . . . and I said to the guys, 'Let's just go ahead and get 100 right here.' "

Sitting on 94 points with 5:46 to play, Chicago shot 1-for-10 trying to crack 100. The Bulls missed their last four shots, including Allen's putback attempt with 9.9 seconds remaining.

"Malik rebounded it, and you can debate then whether he should pull that ball out right there, but the crowd's screaming. I'm not going to pass judgment on a guy for taking that shot," Skiles said. "So it's one shot. The only shot you can debate is that one, and that turns into you're running up the score? C'mon.

"On that rebound, [proper etiquette is to] pull it out at that point. What I should've done, taken a timeout and say, 'OK, guys, call it off.' [I understand Francis' anger] on that one shot. The running up the score, that's just silly. Could they debate if we should've taken that shot? Sure, why not? I have no problem with that."

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The Knicks are so injury-riddled, they had nine coaches and trainers at practice, but eight available players, and 6-foot-7, 255-pound forward Malik Rose practiced bringing the ball up. Thomas described Rose's try at point guard as "terrible."

"You have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. You're just trying to make sure you have all the bases covered, just in case you need to do something drastic," said Thomas.

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Nate Robinson, Mardy Collins and Francis are the available guards for tonight's game at the Nets. Thomas wouldn't rule out Stephon Marbury (questionable, sprained toe), but didn't think Marbury would need offseason surgery.

Renaldo Balkman (stomach virus) is questionable, David Lee (doubtful, right leg) will be a game-time decision to dress as an emergency body, and Jamal Crawford and Quentin Richardson are out.

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