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Bulls 104, Knicks 102: ‘Bad team > bad road team’

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Crap.

NBA: New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Just how bad are the Knicks on the road, exactly? Perhaps we’ve yet to completely plum the depths of their road incompetence, but Saturday night’s loss to the Bulls certain felt like rock bottom at the time. Not only were the Bulls playing the second night of a back-to-back, they are simply not good at the playing of the basketball. You could sense it during the third quarter, when the Knicks started locking down on D and the air was completely sucked out of the arena. Everyone knows the Bulls are supposed to lose.

Everybody but the Knicks, that is. The Bulls have precious few means of scoring, but the Knicks let them exploit every last one, whether it was Nikola Mirotic threes, David Nwaba fast-break dunks, or simply fouling dudes (as they did the Kriss Dunn on the Bulls’ fateful final possession).

I honestly don’t even want to talk about that 10-0 last-minute run that got the Knicks a chance to steal a win. If you need a last-second miracle to beat the Bulls, you don’t deserve to beat the Bulls. The Bulls suck. So do the Knicks...on the road, at least. As P&T at1with0 noted, the math favored the bad team over the bad road team in this one.

Notes

—The one saving grace of this game was the play of Frank Ntilikina. The rookie has been struggling of late, which is something that 19-year-old rookies usually do. But Frank showed off the total package against Chicago, with 10 points on 4-6 shooting. The official box score says he was 2-3 from beyond the arc, but he got screwed by a three-point review that was at the very least inconclusive as to his toe being on the line. The Knicks would lose either way...GIVE FRANK THAT ONE POINT BACK, NBA!

—Frank also dropped 7 dimes against 4 turnovers. A few of those turnovers were telegraphed, but that is to be expected from a rookie. I was actually a bit salty at Mike Breen for registering his disgust at each of Frank’s turnovers. Would you rather him take eight dribbles at the top of the key before handing the ball off to Michael Beasley? Let the baby bird fly!

—Yes, this third note is also about Frank. Watch how effortlessly he shoots the three-ball. Then compare it to the likes of Lance Thomas and (especially) Jarrett Jack, who really need to heave the ball from that distance. Frank is gonna be a good three-point shooter one day; I truly believe that.

—For a brief, glorious moment—the third quarter, to be precise—the Knicks and Kristaps Porzingis eschewed the “let KP back down his opponent on every possession” offense that had proven so unsuccessful in favor of a more varied attack which allowed him to move around, out-quick his man, and slither to the basket. The result: three dunks. New York largely went back to the post-up offense in the fourth quarter, with disastrous results. The Unicorn is keeping himself in the stable when he should be allowed to roam the pastures.

Courtney Lee was shockingly bad through the first 47 minutes (at one point he was 1-8 from the field) and then damn near dragged the Knicks back in the final minute. I’m willing to let it slide, though, since he’s been so good of late.

Doug McDermott was showing some off-the-bounce juice early in this one. Perhaps he was jazzed to play his old team. I kinda wish the Knicks had given him more shots (4-8 for 10 points)

The Knicks play again Sunday night against the Hawks. This game will be at MSG. Do better, guys.