It was that kind of night, friends. So many Knicks were hitting so many shots from so many spots that, as commenter flossy said, even the cold-shooting Roger Mason Jr. might have busted out of his slump this evening, had he played. The Knicks shot a flat-out silly 16-24 from three-point range, carrying an 18-point lead into halftime, then weathering run after run by Derrick Rose and the Bulls to win their second game of the season and first nationally broadcast game since the invention of the television.
Take the jump for notes on the evening.
- Even if the Knicks hadn't won, we would've found a silver lining in the fact that Danilo Gallinari finally came alive on offense. Danilo was on fire in the first half, nailing threes AND attacking the basket for 21 of his 24 points. Gallo, his hair soft and gel-free (Coincidence? I think not.), stepped into his jumpers, drove when he found seams, and suddenly looked locked into the offensive scheme. 4-4 from downtown and 6-6 from the line is such a breath of fresh air, just when I was really starting to worry about the dude. In the same way the sky wasn't falling after three awful games, we shouldn't deem Gallo "back" after one stellar half. It was a huge relief, though.
- What's funniest about about the Knicks' 16-24 shooting from outside is that the Bulls had a terrific three-point game (9-19) themselves. This was a good ol' shootout, and the Bulls put up fantastic shooting numbers. The Knicks were just fantastic-er.
- Another major storyline was the plight of Amar'e Stoudemire, who sputtered amid the Knicks' success, notching an ugly 14 and 8 on 5-21 shooting, 8 turnovers, and all six of his fouls. There's no question that Stoudemire played a clumsy, sloppy game. He made poor decisions, stepped way out of his comfort zone, and wasted numerous possessions. That said, I think those of us that were calling for him to be benched were missing something. See, the Bulls are terrific at defending the pick-and-roll, and they crammed the lane to prevent Amar'e from knifing to the rim. Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Douglas, and the rest of the shooters owe plenty of their open shots to the fact that Stoudemire is a defender magnet. THAT said, just because Amar'e is a defender magnet doesn't mean he has to be a ball magnet. I think the seed needs to be planted in his head that he can be incredibly effective on offense without scoring or even handling the rock. Just by picking, rolling, and attracting help, Amar'e can open up the perimeter, allow wings to sneak backdoor, and generally wreak havoc.
- The point guards are gradually coming to understand this. Both Raymond Felton and Toney Douglas forced some precarious entry passes to Stoudemire, but they also thrived off his gravitational pull. The drive-and-kick and pick-and-pop were in full effect from both point guards, and their stat lines (20 and 10 for Felton. 30, 4, and 4 steals for Toney) reflect that.
- I forgot to mention in that long bullet point that Amar'e started the game by nailing some midrange jumpers. I'm perfectly happy with him taking that shot, provided that he's open and steps into the shot. When he gets to planning, dribbling, faking, and pondering existence with the ball in his hands, things start to go awry. Keep it simple, Amar'e.
- The exception to the above rule is any instance in which Stoudemire is defended by Brian Scalabrine. I know Scal is red from head to toe, but he should look like a giant green light for Amar'e and, well, pretty much any other offensive player on earth.
- Toney needs his own bullet point. Those 30 points were positively sensational. He was sharp (a little trigger-happy, but still sharp) from outside for a cool 5-9 from three. He picked pockets and triggered the fast break. He accelerated past Bull guards to score at the rim in halfcourt sets. Toney Douglas did what Toney Douglas do and he did it in style.
- I asked before the game how the Knicks would defend Derrick Rose and guessed that D'Antoni might throw a bigger guy like Landry Fields on him for stretches. As far as I could tell, Rose saw Felton and Douglas for most of the game, but with a big man always lurking. In much the same way that Stoudemire created shots, Rose's magnetism bought open looks for guys like Taj Gibson (who had 7 of Chicago's first 8 points), Luol Deng, and later on, Kyle Korver. Rose had 14 assists on the evening, but wasn't scoring at will until the third quarter, when the help D completely crumbled.
- In his own fuzzy way, Ronny Turiaf was every bit as instrumental as Gallinari or Douglas in tonight's victory. He ran some splendid pick-and-rolls, wrassled for loose balls and boards, and bit any Bull who dared enter the paint. Ronny's 9 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block are exactly the kind of output we look for from The BFG.
- Wait, why haven't we been calling Ronny The BFG?
- It also warmed my innards to see Turiaf dance and shout when Danilo Gallinari tipped in his miss. Having an energetic advocate like Ronny must make it easier to break out of a slump.
- The Bulls went through stretches during which they'd push after Knick makes. This led to easy buckets pretty much every time. More team should do this but shhhhh...
- Anthony Randolph started the second quarter, played 3 minutes against Brian Scalabrine, made me laugh because he was defending Brian Scalabrine, committed 2 fouls, and returned to the bench for the rest of the game. Baby steps.
- Whatever James Johnson is doing with his hair is not a good look, unless you consider "giant Martian pine cone" a good look.
- We learned during the TNT broadcast that Dr. Oz is Marv Albert's physician, which 1. kind of makes perfect sense and 2. means that Dr. Oz actually sees patients, which is weird.
- When the Bulls started rolling and the lead dipped into single digits, this one started to feel a little like the Portland game. Wanna know why it didn't feel exactly like the Portland game? The Knicks were 24-29 on free throws. Get it done from the line and you can afford to falter elsewhere sometimes.
- Whenever you get sad that Toney Douglas isn't a true point guard off the bench, take a look at the Bulls' second unit. C.J. Watson (who I love, by the way) makes Toney look like John Stockton.