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Bulls 116, Knicks 115 (2OT): 'I miss you, KP'

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Stupid Bulls.

Chicago Bulls v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

I hate losing to the Bulls. Game 1 in ‘91. Game 7 in ‘92. Game 5 in ‘93. Game 6 in ‘94. Game 4 in ‘96. On March 12, 1999, the 5-14 Bulls beat a Knick team that would go to the Finals 76-63. Not the Jordan/Pippen/Rodman Bulls. These Bulls were led by Toni Kukoc, Randy Brown and Dickey Simpkins. Tonight Chicago bested New York 116-115 in double-overtime, behind 41 from the guy the Wolves should’ve kept in the Jimmy Butler trade instead of Andrew Wiggins. Just another brick in the wall.

With Tim Hardaway Jr. out due to injury, Allonzo Trier started, meaning the oldest Knick starter was grizzled 24-year-old Damyean Dotson. Also, Kevin Knox returned to action for the first time since spraining his ankle two weeks ago against Boston.

That’s good!

The Knicks missed their first nine shots. That’s bad.

The opening frame twas not the greatest stretch of play in the Knick career of Noah Vonleh. He missed a three badly, missed a dunk, and threw an awful pass from the frontcourt into the backcourt for a violation. There were more than a few Charles Smith vibes wafting off Vonleh tonight. Meanwhile, Zach LaVine got what he wanted where he wanted when he wanted how he wanted, over and over again.

No Knick besides Dotson could hit a shot in the first, but the home team dominated the offensive boards, which kept them even entering the second. It would have kept them even, if not for Antonio Blakeney. Who the hell is Antonio Blakeney?!

A dude who scored 12 points in his first nine minutes tonight, that’s who.

The game was a back-and-forth affair, with 14 lead changes and six ties in the first 20 minutes. Every time you blinked there was another breakdown, on both sides, but there’s beauty in the breakdown.

It was all tied up at the half, but in the third the Bulls led throughout, going up by as many as 10. Late in the third Hezonja shot a flat-footed 28-footer. It would not be the last time tonight he pulled this crap.

Trier struggled with his shot most of the night, but picked it up late. New York clawed back and tied it on a Trey Burke jumper with 4:00 left. Two LaVine three-pointers put the Bulls back up six, but again the Knicks persisted, and a Trier three in the final minute leveled the score. This game was too ugly and too hard-fought to end in regulation.

In overtime a Dotson runner put New York up 108-106. LaVine’s baseline floater over Enes Kanter tied it. LaVine got Kanter on a switch and missed a three with 35 seconds left, but Chicago got the rebound, only Cameron Payne, pulling a Bargnani, missed an improbable three-pointer instead of milking the clock and getting a shot for people who aren’t Cameron Payne. With 20 seconds left, what would the Knicks draw up?

With 4 seconds left, Mudiay threw a lob pass to Kanter that Justin Holiday picked off like he was still a Knick and had been in the huddle seeing the play drawn up. What did the creator think of his creation?

But this game may have set a record for turnovers in a game due to dudes stepping out of bounds, which LaVine then did, giving the Knicks one more shot in overtime. Kanter missed a three and it was on to double-OT.

A Trier step-back three put the Knicks up 111-108. Someone on Chicago forgot to turn off the Payne/Hero Mode setting. Then a Trier jumper that would’ve put New York up five rimmed out, LaVine posted and drove for a lay-up, Mudiay turned it over by stepping out of bounds, LaVine took it right at Dotson for another lay-up, Trier responded with a lay-in of his own, the Bulls turned it over, the Knicks nearly did, a Dotson three rimmed out, LaVine pump-faked Dotson into a foul and hit one of two at the line, Kanter missed a long jumper, LaVine drove for another lay-up, Trier missed a runner off-glass, Kanter missed perhaps the one rebound all night he didn’t grab, LaVine missed a baseline fadeaway, Dotson rebounded and gave it to Mudiay, who pushed the length of the floor and used his strength to lay it in in a moment that may have reminded some of you of another MSG overtime thriller from 2006. Now, meet then:

Chicago inbounded to LaVine, who blew by Trier and Dotson and was driving for what looked like an open lay-up before Mudiay fouled him with 0.2 seconds left. He’s gonna get a lot of crap for it, because he’s Mudiay, and because the clock was running down, but I don’t know what people wanted him to do. LaVine had 40 points at that point and had already hit a million shots at or near the rim. Yes, a runner is trickier than a lay-in, but what’s Mudiay supposed to do? Let him get the shot off? I can’t blame him them for contesting. I may be getting soft in my old age, in the head and/or the heart.

This was a game only a van full of mothers could love, a rough trick. Both teams really did look to be trying hard and having fun, bless their hearts. Yes, the Knicks lost. But from another point of view, they’ve already won.

Notes:

  • Frank Ntilikina’s shot was flat as Kyrie Irving’s worldview. Zero points of 0-of-6 shooting, and only 16 minutes. In the last two games, he’s got six points, six assists, two rebounds, and is -30. You might point out plus/minus is a flawed stat. Doesn’t change how disappointing Ntilikina has been of late after such a promising stretch before it. Have a feeling Clarence Gaines won’t be tweeting tonight.
  • I don’t care that he torched the Knicks tonight. The NBA is a funner spectacle with a healthy balling Zach LaVine in it. 41!
  • RoLo: two points, five rebounds. He’ll always be Phil Jackson’s best signing and the trade that marked the beginning of the WTF. OAKAAKUYOAK.
  • Justin Holiday with the very familiar heterogeneity to Knick fans: 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals. OAKAAKUYOAK, too.
  • Dotson slipped and looked like he hurt himself in the last half-minute of regulation, but kept playing. Thank the good Lord for backs on the right side of 30.
  • On a couple possessions, the shot clock was winding down with Trier holding the ball and not having much time or space to create a good look. In each case he didn’t attempt to get a shot off and took the 24-second violation. Couldn’t help thinking of Shane Larkin’s Knick tenure, and how he’d never launch end-of-quarter heaves ‘cuz he didn’t want to hurt his shooting percentage. You best be better than that, Allonzo!
  • My birthday is this week. Few gifts would I appreciate more than this being the year Mudiay masters the step-back fadeaway he’s busted out the past few games. Quite possibly his finest hour in the orange and blue, no matter how it ended.
  • Kanter with 23 points, 24 rebounds, 7 assists and, despite the usual defense-only-a-rocking-chair-could-love, finished +7. Mike Breen mentioned it was the first 20/20/5 game off the bench since Charles Barkley in 1986. Turns out those two are the only guys ever to do it.
  • David Fizdale spoke before the game about Kanter.

That is a very encouraging, backhanded way of confirming Enes is:

1) not a part of the future, and

2) not gonna start.

Preach, Coach.

  • Fizdale reminds me of Rex Ryan with the Jets. Ryan was a terrible clock-manager late in games; his strength was creating a culture. Fizdale’s play-calling in late-and-close situations is...not Popovich-like. But he seems to be effectively building a culture here, and that’s more important at this stage. And lest we lose sight of this, Fiz still has less than a year-and-a-half of experience as an NBA head coach.
  • Chicago clearly studied tape of the Knicks’ loss in Washington and came to the same conclusion the Wizards did: pressure the ball and they’ll struggle. Expect to see more of this going forward. Does that mean more Mudiay in our future? The adjustments have already begun.
  • After airballing a three-pointer in overtime, Hezonja heard a smattering boos. I already won’t miss him when he’s gone.
  • Draft-day confessions: I really, really, really wanted the Knicks to draft Wendell Carter Jr. last year.
  • Carter Jr. fouled out late in regulation and IMMEDIATELY went to the bench, took a seat at the end and sat with the posture of a sixth-grader who’s sent to the principal’s office and knows they done wrong and feels sincerely remorseful about it.
  • Jabari Parker is a lot bigger than I realized.
  • Dotson seems to always pop up with big jumpers. And big rebounds in tough spots. And big defense, or least willing defense.
  • Fred Hoiberg looks like a Cracker Barrel manager who doesn’t care what turned up in your coffee, he’ll offer you a fresh cup on the house but no refund, and within seconds of you protesting he’s fallen into a “I’ve heard you. Can I get you a free refill?” mantra and won’t even look in the face anymore.

Quoth King Henry the 2nd: “I miss you, KP.” This game was a reminder no matter how intriguing you imagine the potential future of anyone who played tonight, this team is something entirely different once Kristaps Porzingis returns. Next game is Wednesday in Atlanta. Knicks’ll be looking to snap a two-game losing streak; Hawks’ll be out for revenge after getting smoked in New York the first game of the season. In the year of the tank, it doesn’t get any better than that!