When the final horn sounded, Steve Kerr hugged Scottie Pippen - as well he should have.

After Kerr let the New York Knicks tie it at the end of regulation with what he called "one of the all-time bonehead plays," Pippen rescued Kerr and the Chicago Bulls in overtime.Pippen had season highs with 36 points and 16 rebounds Sunday night in a 107-104 victory that gave the Bulls their first two-game winning streak at the new United Center.

The Knicks, meanwhile, are on a five-game skid - their longest since 1990 and the worst in the illustrious career of coach Pat Riley.

Pippen scored all seven Chicago points in an overtime that never would have been had Kerr not messed up at the end of regulation.

"Fortunately," Kerr said, "we pulled through or I'd be buried in the sand right now."

With the Bulls ahead 100-97, New York's Anthony Mason threw a full-court inbounds pass toward Charles Smith and Derek Harper. The ball went to Kerr, but instead of catching it, he batted it with both hands right to Hubert Davis. With four-tenths of a second left, Davis made an off-balance 25-foot heave from the right wing to tie it.

"I felt horrible," said Kerr, recognized as a smart, fundamentally sound player. "It was embarrassing. Not only does it happen, but it happens on national TV, on Christmas night with the whole world watching.

"I thought Harper was going to get it behind me. At the last second, I got the ball. But I had already anticipated that he was going to be there and I was going to try to knock it away from him.

"Of course, I had a clear shot at it and it ended up being one of the all-time bonehead plays. But we won and I'm off the hook."

He's off the hook thanks to Pippen.

Yes, the same Scottie Pippen who will be forever remembered for refusing to play the final 1.8 seconds of Game 3 in last May's Eastern Conference semifinals - a series the Knicks won in seven games to end the Bulls' string of three NBA championships. Pippen was upset that coach Phil Jackson had chosen Toni Kukoc to take the game's last shot.

Sunday, Pippen refused to leave the game, playing all 53 minutes.

"I couldn't get him out," Jackson said. "I tried to take him out a couple of times, asked him if he'd like to come out. He said he was fine. He wanted to be out there."

Pippen made a driving layup with 2:24 to go put Chicago ahead for good, 104-102. And he clinched the victory by blocking 3-point attempts by both Davis and Smith in the final seconds.

Pippen had been looking forward to the game all month.

"I told my teammates that the Christmas game is big, with a lot of hype," said Pippen, whose Bulls have won five straight on the holiday. "I really wanted to win this."

The Knicks wanted it, too, giving the game a playoff-type intensity before the biggest crowd in Bulls history, 22,854.

The contest was filled with hard fouls and trash-talk exchanges. John Starks was ejected for throwing the ball at Chicago's Pete Myers, and Mason was assessed a flagrant foul for hitting Kukoc in the head.

In the end, though, it was just another loss for the Knicks, who fell to 12-12 less than six months after losing to Houston in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

"We're just caught in the throes of something right now," Riley said.