The Knicks, previously 2-10 against the Chicago Bulls since Carmelo was traded to the Knicks, really and thoroughly dismantled the Bulls tonight. This game basically didn't matter for the recently playoff-denied New York Knickerbockers, of course.The Bulls probably really wanted this one, as this loss drops them back into a tie with Toronto for the 3rd seed in the East (Raptors own the tiebreaker right now, as they lead the Atlantic Division). Too bad! Chicago's awful offense just kind of pooped the game away as the Knicks held off a mildy scary late rally to secure the win. More importantly though:
What a dunk indeed, danman11.
It's weird: The Bulls didn't really underperform in any particularly unusual way, other than bricking open shots. Which, I mean the Knicks will just give you those. FARTDOG is very real, and it did its best to give the Bulls backcourt chances to go off. CHI's guards just refused to take advantage; I assume out of pity or something. Sorry Kirk Hinrich. We can't help you if you won't help yourself. The Bulls as a team shot 6-22 from three, and I swear at least 18 of those shots were wide open. There wasn't even a half-hearted attempt at contesting some of these shots. They were Knick-defense open. They just missed. The Knicks, to their credit, did seem to actually care about defending the paint mostly. They got backdoored by Jimmy Butler repeatedly and there was this one time where the Knicks legitimately forgot that the Bulls had all five players on the court, but otherwise it was nice to see the effort from the Knick bigs.
In fact, just about every Knick seemed energized tonight. Carmelo Anthony started out hot, cooking the Bulls to the tune of 4-5 in the first quarter. Iman Shumpert was fierce on defense and made some genuinely productive drive-and-kicks, though he wasn't able to nab an assist off of them. Amar'e Stoudemire had some great moments carrying New York's offense in the post. Even Raymond Felton made some big plays, including his trademark off-the-dribble late jumper signifying the end of the game. The Bulls did make a run down the stretch, even cutting the deficit to six with 3:51 seconds to go. Didn't matter. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cole Aldrich (!) did enough with their scoring and rebounding respectively to keep Chicago from completing their comeback. And that was the game. Chicago couldn't score reliably or capitalize on the very open threes offered and the Knicks took care of the ball and business at home. Some notes:
- Melo had a pretty quiet game after the first quarter. It seemed like it might be one of those nights for Carmelo, because he was just drilling basically whatever contested thing he threw into the air. He kind of faded into the background for the rest of the game until getting a tech late in the third quarter after arguing a foul call. He took a seat and never really needed to leave it. Which is probably for the best, because who knows what's swirling around in that shoulder of his.
- J.R. Smith helped carry the Knicks through the first half of the game. He gets a lot of grief for falling in love with his jumper, which is fair but on nights like tonight becomes hard to criticize. JR started off 4-7 from deep, and did that thing where he starts taking wilder and wilder shots just to see. Just to see if he can feel his face. He felt his face later, but the heat checks were worth it. Earl also threw one of the worst alley-oop attempts at a space three feet from Chandler earlier in the game, but that's all right.
- Phil Collins took in the win courtside, and got probably the loudest applause of the night when "In The Air Tonight" came on and he was revealed. I love that song.
- Tyson Chandler had a weird game. He did seem to actually care about protecting the rim and was a presence in the paint for most of his minutes. He made sure to grab up 12 rebounds for the game as well, mostly of the defensive variety. He also barreled right through Mike Dunleavy in the first quarter and got called for a flagrant foul. Dun Dun was setting a cross screen and Chandler didn't feel like running around so he just trucked Dunleavy. Silly Tyson. He got to chill during the 4th quarter with Melo.
- Felton was okay. He connected on a few pull-up jumpers out of the pick-and-roll and helped ice the game after crossing DJ Augustin. It seemed like he might have tweaked an ankle earlier landing on DJ's foot, but he just tied his shoes and gritted through it. He's a tough penguin.
- The Bulls post players did not seem to appreciate some of the officiating. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson both lost their respective cools and got T'd up after questionable foul calls. I remember when the Knicks used to always flip out during Bulls games.
- After another of Cole Aldrich's jump hooks found the bottom of the net, Clyde Frazier commented that the shot was, "Too old school for these fellas." Aldrich does seem like kind of a throwback guy, I suppose.
- Wait, more importantly: COLE TRAIN, am I right?! You absolutely cannot convince me that Cole isn't a solid reserve big. Aldrich got his usual rebounds and managed to block three shots, including one monster rejection on a Taj Gibson dunk attempt. Cole kept picking at one of his hands for some reason, but it might have just been residual filth from that block on Gibson.
- Stoudemire played well. He kind of carried New York's offense when it needed carrying, and helped match Noah's intensity. The Bulls couldn't defend him in single coverage, so they sent doubles to try and slow him down. STAT mostly just ran straight through the help defense. The revival of Amar'e is heartwarming. He even canned a few midrange jump shots for good measure.
- The Knicks were actually led in scoring by Tim Hardaway Jr. Most of THJ's 20 points came in/as a result of transition, though he had a pretty jumpshot fall in the short corner after a pump-fake and a couple of dribbles. His poor defense helped let the Bulls back into the game, but his late offense made up for it. All in all it was a good night for Timmy.
And that was the game. It was honestly kind of... fun. I don't know that there's been many other Knicks-Bulls games recently that were actually entertaining as a fan of basketball but this was a good one. The Knicks are two games out from the end of the regular season. At this point, I'm just looking for exciting games without major injury. I'd prefer the team not tempt fate by playing Melo and Chandler very often or at all really, but this wasn't bad I suppose. Hopefully the young guys will actually get some more run for the last couple of games. Why not, y'know?