“A win always feels good,” said Melo after Thursday night’s win over the Bulls (via ESPN). It felt good to play in (I assume), and it certainly felt good to watch. As P&T’er k21c noted, this was a game you could even perhaps re-watch!
Without their respective best players, the Knicks and Bulls each wheeled out motley lineups for their Thursday evening meeting in the Garden. I will plainly and candidly admit; I had no idea who in the hell Paul Zipser was, which of course made his decent first half performance all the more annoying. But, I digress.
Dealing with a variety of different ailments, Chicago was without Jimmy Butler and Niko Mirotic, while the Knicks were without Kristaps Porzingis whose recently injured achilles flared up prior to Thursday night’s game.
Charles Barkley, in all his eloquence, made sure to let us all know we may want to skip this game. After all of the chaos surrounding the Knicks this week, though, I think we were all just glad to get back to basketball. And, perhaps, get back to winning,
New York managed to get back to both of those things.
I’m realizing as I write this that I’m navigating through two very distinct crowds right now. The “I just want the Knicks to win” crowd, and the “#LonzoForGonzo, why are we winning games on purpose” crowd. Far from me to disparage either one of those factions, you guys are both valued parts of our readership and we’re all kinda in this together, aren’t we.
The Knicks pretty much led this game wire to wire. Their three-point halftime edge was quickly expanded upon after the break. After New York made the lead 60-55 at around the 9:00 mark of the third quarter, the Knicks’ were never up by fewer than 5 points the rest of the way.
Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose continue to come to life against their former team (whom they play for the third and final time on April 4th, for all of you wondering).
Rose scored 17 points and pulled down 4 rebounds on the day, while Joakim Noah scored 12 points and grabbed 15 boards of his own. This, of course, begs the question: why can’t we always play the Bulls and Noah’s large adult son, Taj Gibson?
Noah, jokingly, on Gibson's technical: "Why did my son have to look at me with such hostility?"— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 13, 2017
In their earlier meeting, the two former Bulls had great games as well. After Rose’s strong game against the 76ers on Wednesday night, one wonders if this week’s saga was just what he needed to get back on track, or if he just gets it going against his old team. Either way, D-Rose is a key component to a Knicks playoff push, and if his last two games are a sample of things to come down the stretch, that’s a good sign for New York.
As for Noah, he dropped only his fifth double-double of the season, and it was a much-needed one.
“We were in a situation where we desperately needed a win. When you lose to the 76ers at the buzzer and you’re up 10 with two minutes to go, it was tough,” said Noah, via The Chicago Tribune.
Don’t look now, but the big man from Hell’s Kitchen has put up some pretty good numbers of late, averaging of 7.8 points (on 55.8% shooting!!!) and 10.3 boards per game in the month of January.
Knicks fans are looking for anything to somehow justify the massive contract he was given in the offseason. If he can help lift New York to the playoffs with performances like Thursday night’s, it would, at least, help that cause.
Kyle O’Quinn had a good game of his own, registering a double-double, and continued to be something of an anchor defensively, at least for the second unit. He had a block of Dwyane Wade, and D-Wade abuse is always welcome in these corners.
KUUUUZZZZ, meanwhile, continues his upward trajectory towards a much expanded role down the stretch run of the season. Cheese got 30 minutes of playing time, and responded with a career-high 19 points. The Garden was KUUUUUUUUUZ-ing with every jumper.
Getting this win without Kristaps is also notable for New York. You can never replace a literal unicorn, but you can try to put together contingencies to, at the very least, come close to what he’ll bring to the floor. Kyle O’Quinn’s 11 boards and those wonderful 19 Kuzminskas points may be a little insight into what Jeff Hornacek did to remedy such a tall (i’m really good at this) obstacle.
The Knicks now turn their attention to the Raptors, and that’s about all I have to say about that for now.
Enjoy this win, though, folks! The no-Butler and no-Mirotic caveats apply, sure, but the no-Kristaps one does, too. It was a very undramatic win, which is a thing the Knicks haven’t had in a very long time.