Knicks 103, Bulls 95: "MERRY KNICKSMAS!"

Merrrrrrrrrrrrry Knicksmas! With a rousing win over the feisty Bulls, New York assured that those of us celebrating Christmas wouldn't spend the rest of the day sobbing into our um....ham? (What do people eat on Christmas? Fruitcake? Snow? Seriously, educate me.)

It was a sandwich-like affair, with two quarters of sharp basketball book-ended by sloppy first and fourth quarters for both clubs. On the afternoon, the Knicks were brilliant once more from downtown (12-22), but let the Bulls stick around with second opportunities (17 offensive rebounds). New York took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter, and excellent defense coupled with a heap of boners by Chicago helped the Knicks secure the win.

Take the jump for a bit more (and thanks to blackhova for the headline).

- Evidence that the Knicks are fun to watch this year: When my alarm went off this morning, I realized that I'd awoken from a nightmare in which I couldn't watch the Knicks game because I was in Italy. Once more: I had a NIGHTMARE that I was IN ITALY.

- I wish I had more thumbs, because those green jerseys still warrant four thumbs down. The green and orange combo just doesn't do it for me. There has to be a better way to acknowledge Christmas, right? How about all the Knicks grow beards and dye them white? What about reindeer-skin shorts? Anything would be better than the green uniforms. I did like the red shoes, though.

- Like I said in the pre-jump bit, the beginning of this game stank. Both teams blundered on offense, hovering around 40% shooting and mishandling the rock. The Bulls had nine first quarter turnovers, while the Knicks had six. It seemed like neither team could pass or dribble in a straight line without surrendering possession, which is a testament to both solid defense and the typical matinee game clumsiness from both squads. On the other hand, the Knicks had six steals and five blocks in that opening period, which was neat.

- Every game against the Bulls has a "Rick Brunson Moment", which is when you first see Rick Brunson on the Chicago bench and become overwhelmed with feelings of warmth and adoration. I've never had a kid, but I imagine that the triumph of bringing a new life into the world is not unlike a Rick Brunson Moment.

- The three bench bros continued their improved play. Toney Douglas made some superb defensive plays, canned some open threes, and had one gorgeous coast-to-coast drive to the rim. He also ran a pretty splendid two-man game with Ronny Turiaf, who had two nice finishes of his own. Shawne Williams did his part, too, with a couple of corner poops (at least one of which was actually an elbow poop). If you're gonna play just eight men, you need all eight men to contribute. That was more or less the case today.

- Mike Crispino and Kelly Tripucka didn't do a bad job subbing in for Mike Breen (ESPN duties) and Walt Frazier (probably off gardening somewhere). One exchange I enjoyed:

[Ronnie Brewer blows an open layup]

Tripucka: Use the backboard! That's what we tell the kids!

Crispino: Or dunk it!

THAT'S what I tell the kids.

- I get the Ashton Kutcher thing, but Kyle Korver actually looks like Matt Damon. Everybody gets thrown off by the hair.

- The second quarter featured a pair of opposing runs. A Landry Fields tip-in of a missed free throw (and one!) put the Knicks up 9, but the Bulls' guards stormed right back to put Chicago up two at halftime.

- Even without Joakim Noah to face, Amar'e Stoudemire didn't have his best offensive game. Amar'e's turnover problems (7) were in full effect, but credit him with getting Kurt Thomas into foul trouble (although somehow Amar'e went to the line just once) and scoring pretty efficiently in traffic (10-18, 20 points). Ultimately, Stoudemire's biggest effect on today's game came on the defensive end, where he had six spectacular blocks, including a couple on Rose.

- After a shaky start, Raymond Felton sank some big buckets in the final quarter and a half. He attacked the rim and also found his jumper late in the game, finishing with 20 points to go with his 12 dimes and 5 steals.

- Derrick Rose put up a pretty otherworldly line (25, 8, 7, and 6) and had two consecutive ridiculous drives in the third quarter. I'll take 12-28 and 7 turnovers from him any day, though. Felton and Douglas had a lot of trouble staying in front of that springy little insect (I'm surprised that Rose hasn't seen Landry Fields at all in two games), but Stoudemire, Turiaf, and Wilson Chandler did a nice job helping out once Rose penetrated.

- Shawne Williams really shouldn't ever have to guard Carlos Boozer. This is partially because Boozer is too strong for him and partially because Boozer is contagious and I like Shawne a lot.

- In that fourth quarter, the Bulls didn't score for a full 8 minutes, and finished with just 12 points. They were an absolute trainwreck, but give the Knicks some credit for playing excellent transition defense. Douglas, Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari each did a nice job hustling back to prevent easy buckets.

Yeah, that's probably it. This awful recap has taken me way too long to write because I'm totally distracted by these evening games. Forgive me, friends. Merry Christmas to one and all, and thanks to those of you who participated in the game thread. I love you all very much.

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