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Game Preview: Knicks vs. Bulls- 12/02/21

The revitalized Knicks head back to the Garden to fry up some beef.

New York Knicks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The New York Knicks (11-10) lost a classic in Brooklyn on Tuesday, 112-110. In a suspiciously officiated game, that crooked vulture Scott Foster swallowed his whistle so far that his butt was trilling. I wanted Julius Randle to flip him upside down and shake it out.

The Nets rank first in the Eastern Conference. This Thursday, the Knicks host the second-place team, the Chicago Bulls (14-8). This marks the third of four regular-season match-ups between the clubs, and the series is tied 1-1.

When they last met, the Chi-boys cooked up a 37-point fourth quarter for a 109-103 win, and did so without their cheesy Swiss center, Nikola Vučević. For the Knicks, Kemba Walker was the starting point guard, and Mitchell Robinson sat. The latest assemblage of Knicks, with Alec Burks leading the charge, has demonstrated more consistent vigor (versus Hawks, Nets) and is hungry for another slice of deep-dish victory pie.

Let’s eat. Tip-off’s at 7:30 PM, foodies.

PROJECTIONS

On Monday, the Bulls won the Ball Bowl and delivered the Charlotte Hornets a 133-119 loss. PG Lonzo Ball scored 16 points and eight assists against little LaMelo in the game. Zo’s average is 12.5 and 4.8 this season.

The Lonz has a reputation for hearty defense, but Burks, seeking his third straight 23+ game, will surely match his effort. In two contests with Alec manning the grill, the Knicks have started from the jump with renewed intensity and, most importantly, points. It begs the question: Kemba who?

Bond villain Vučević is a difficult assignment. Vooch just sautéed the Hornets for 30 points and 14 rebounds. The big pepperoni is averaging 14.5 and 11.2 and essential to their frontcourt, especially with Patrick Williams out for the season (dislocated wrist).

Vooch has averaged 24.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, and four assists in eight games versus the beefy Mitchell Robinson. Mitch has fared worse: he’s averaged 8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and three blocks in their match-ups. Look for Nerlens Noel to get the quick sub if Mitch struggles.

DeMar DeRozan is killing from mid-range this season and making a case for eventual Hall-of-Fame consideration (this year: 25.9 ppg, 5.2 trb, 4.2 ast, on 51% eFG). The 32-year old is also playing his most minutes per game in five seasons. So much for that old-man drop-off.

DeMar roasted the Knicks for 31 points, six rebounds, and five assists on 10-20 shooting in their previous meeting. When last seen, New York’s power forward Julius Randle was skewering the Nets and the refs. He went 24/9/8 against Brooklyn in perhaps his most complete game of the season. Another order of downhill bully ball, please.

Zach LaVine was a crispy +26 against the Hornets on Monday and finished the game with 25 points, six rebounds, and five assists. That’s about par for the course with him (25.3/5.2/3.7).

Evan Fournier will do his best to keep up with Zach the All-Star. Somehow, the Frenchman logged zero assists or boards against the Nets but hit a clutch three to tie the game with 17 seconds left and was nearly a hero when his last-second, half-court attempt shanked.

Over the past four games, Evan has shot a saucy four for 7.5 from deep, an average of 53%. That’s the kind of production we’d hoped for when New York inked him. More of that too, s’il te plaît.

Javonte Green (5.5/4.2/0.7) is a 6”4’, 205 lb wing and a weak spot in the starting line-up. Look for him to square off with RJ Barrett, provided that the Canadian bacon is recovered from the illness that took him out of Tuesday’s game. RJ is listed as day-to-day.

PREDICTIONS

To play the conference’s first- and second-place teams in the same week is a tough order. These Knicks are up to the challenge, though. Just as New York has the better pizza, on Thursday night we’ll have the better basketball team. Expect the Knicks to fry Chicago by five, folks.

Thursday. The World’s Most Famous Pizzeria. 7:30 PM. Let’s go Knicks!