Bulls 93, Knicks 85: "This is some butt ugly basketball."

Jonathan Daniel

The short-handed Knicks fell to the short-handed Bulls in an extremely sloppy game in Chicago.

Well, I'll try not to spend too much of my Saturday night dwelling on that one, but here's a recap. It was ugly. Butt ugly, as KnightandDaye said in the thread. The marauding Chicago defense consumed New York's pick-and-rolls without exposing the perimeter, leaving the Knick backcourt to try and create points out of thin air, a task at which they resoundingly failed. Raymond Felton, invited to shoot over screens, unabashedly did just that and hit roughly nothing. He shot 9-30 overall, shanking a heap of silly jumpers without his feet set and rimming out a number of non-silly lay-up attempts as well. J.R. Smith (4-14) was equally ineffective, albeit in half the volume, and even Jason Kidd (2-7, both of those makes being threes) had trouble creating for himself or anybody else. Even without Taj Gibson most of the night (he got ejected), the Bulls made things difficult for New York, and the Knicks didn't help themselves with some poor execution and failure to exploit opportunities.

New York did a much better job taking care of the rock after the break, with just three turnovers in the second half after a wildly uncharacteristic twelve-turnover first half. They did a very good job on the offensive glass, too, but botched most of those second opportunities. I hoped Steve Novak might heat up after Gibson got tossed-- and he did hit a three soon thereafter-- but the Bulls continued to stick him and the Knicks routinely failed to find him with an extra pass when opportunities arose.

New York gave up some big Chicago performances, too. Marco Belinelli dropped 15 points on Smith in the first quarter (even banking in a long buzzer-beater a split second after Rasheed Wallace banked a three in himself), then our old friend Nate Robinson (who replaced Kirk Hinrich after Hinrich hurt his elbow) burned Felton for some flawless pick-and-rolls in the fourth quarter. It didn't help that Tyson Chandler-- who'd played a terrific game up to that point-- insisted on sticking in the game with five fouls, then proceeded to allow easy rebounds and inside buckets with his tentative play. I'd typically take half a Chandler over any alternative, but given that Sheed had defended superbly all night and Kurt Thomas had found a bit of a groove running the pick-and-roll with Pablo Prigioni to start the fourth, I think Woodson made the wrong decision to indulge Chandler's request to play through foul trouble. Ronnie Brewer's lack of minutes (16) was also a little odd given J.R.'s stinkiness. Brewer didn't produce anything on offense, either, but did a far better job against Luol Deng in the minutes he got. I wonder if his knee was acting up.

(Quick shout-out to Novak's effort on the boards, Chandler's tip-outs, James White's gorgeous hesitation dribble-drive, and Kurt's viscous rejection of Marquis Teague's weak lay-up attempt. Gems in the poop.)

Oh well. The Knicks have a great offense, but asking it to run cohesively against an elite defense without Melo on the floor to create space was a tall order. New York came close enough to give us hope, but failed to make tough shots while surrendering some big ones the other way (the Bulls are one of the league's worst three-point shooting teams, but hit 7-13 in this one). Oh well. Let's see if they can collect themselves at home tomorrow night (thankfully, not a matinee) against the Nuggets. I hope and expect that Melo will suit up for that one. Good night, friends.

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