Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bulls 98, Knicks 86 - Recap

Photo by Nathanial Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
That was so just... yuck. We knew the Bulls wouldn't go down easy without Derrick Rose, but it seemed like the Knicks expected to be handed the win. After an ugly start to the game where the Knicks were down 8-0 and didn't score until there was under eight minutes left in the game, they put together a really impressive run, where they scored on ten of eleven possessions, and mostly stifled the Chicago Bulls on defense. After that it was back to ugly.

The 2nd quarter was just abysmal, with the Knicks being out-scored 25-10. While their offense came back to life (somewhat) in the second half it was never enough. Richard Hamilton got hot and evidently was fouled every time the Bulls had the ball in the 3rd quarter, and the Knicks defensive effort in the deciding 4th quarter was lacking. Too many open shots, too many silly fouls, too many bad turnovers.

I suppose a split in a home-and-home with the Bulls isn't a bad result, but it sure felt disappointing to me. Jump for some notes.

That Was Good
 - Carmelo Anthony continued his strong play. After getting over the aforementioned slow-footed start, Melo had his way in the 1st quarter, torching folks on long jumpshots on offense, and stripping everyone he came near on defense. He mellowed out (hehe) through the next two quarters, and then tried his mightiest in the 4th quarter but to no avail. Though he had success on post-ups, drawing fouls, and getting to the basket, he never really had that flow where he was ready to take over the game. A big part was the guards' inability to get Melo the ball on the elbow or other sweet spots, though that's certainly in part due to Chicago's defense. Anthony still grooved his way to 29 points on 11-19 shooting, with 5 assists, and 4 steals.

 - Tyson Chandler was pretty much the only guy that rebounded the ball for the Knicks. The box score says he had 15 boards to go along with his 10 points and 3 blocks, but it seemed to me like Tyson had, like, 30 rebounds in the game. He was beat a couple of times on the boards by the tenacious Bulls, and was left in the dust by guys like Hamilton and other guards going to the rack, but as usual, it would have been soooo much worse without Tyson.

That Wasn't So Good
 - The Knicks bench was awful. Including J.R. Smith's 14 points (which are a bit deceiving because he was largely ineffective), the Knicks scored 18 off the bench. Novak was off the mark once again (and that scares me), Jared Jeffries stumbled around, unable to secure rebounds and loose balls or score near the basket, and Toney Douglas's 7 minutes were horrendous. When the starters checked out of the game to start the 2nd quarter, it was about as ugly as we've seen all season. I didn't get to watch the MSG broadcast, but I imagine Clyde said "stumbling and bumbling" at least seven times.

 - Baron Davis had a great 1st quarter, but the wheels fell off shortly after. He threw a bunch of really awful passes (some of them repeatedly at Tyson Chandler's face) and was routinely burned by whoever he was guarding - mostly Rip Hamilton which was a horrible matchup for Davis. Toney Douglas took three awful, not-even-close shots in that second quarter, and made the Knicks offense look like a Biddy Basketball team that had never played together. In short, the Knicks really missed Jeremy Lin and the semblance of a point guard that can run the offense.

  - Alan Hahn pointed to it a bunch of times on Twitter, but in the 3rd quarter the Knicks had cut a twelve-point lead to three and seemed to have the momentum. Off a Bulls inbound with two seconds left, Hamilton chucked up a deep jumper that swished through at the buzzer. From then on, the Bulls went on a run to push it back to double-digits and New York never really came close again.

Odds and Ends
 - Iman Shumpert was trying really hard on both ends with little success. He hit a spot-up 3-pointer and had some nice drives, but otherwise committed some really poorly timed fouls and was oddly ineffective on defense. At one point, Shump drove the lane with stuffin' on his mind, only to be blocked going up... by Kyle Korver. Jeff Van Gundy remarked there should be a penalty box for being blocked by Korver.

 - Tyson Chandler was then blocked at the rim by a combination of Kyle Korver and Luol Deng just possessions later.

 - Landry Fields started strong and as usual, tailed off in the second half. He did have some nice drives though. If he could get his shot back, it would open up his game so much more. Unfortunately, a reliable jumpshot seems to be a thing of the past for Landry.

 - Jeff Van Gundy also remarked that Tom Thibodeau lost his voice at birth.

All in all, the Knicks were just out-executed in pretty much all aspects. They moved back into 8th place with wins by the Sixers and Celtics tonight, and will be traveling up to Milwaukee for an extremely important game tomorrow night against the Bucks. Shit.

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