Even with one game between both franchises still to be played next Friday, the New York Knicks buried the Chicago Bulls in their season series. That was sealed Friday night with the Knicks demolishing the Bulls 114-91. It was the second leg of this week’s back-to-back affair between both teams, both games played at the United Center.
With this win, their sixth in a row, the Knicks became the hottest team in the East. No other franchise having as many consecutive victories as the New Yorkers in their most recent run of results. Only the Memphis Grizzlies have a longer streak, with seven wins in a row.
Even then, Tom Thibodeau is “not taking the cheese.”
Expanding on his answer to the question of whether or not these Knicks are melting lava hot, Thibs reasoned that the important thing for the Knicks as a team is, “...to not feel too good about ourselves.”
The reason for that? “Usually, when you start feeling too good about yourself is when you get knocked on your butt.”
Words of wisdom.
New York outrebounded Chicago 50-39 on Friday and 98-70 in their two-game series. More damning for the Bulls, they lost the offensive rebounding battle by a ridiculous 30-5 in favor of the Knickerbockers.
The Knicks held Chicago to 91 points on the day, the fifth time they have limited an opponent to fewer than 100 points through the six-game winning streak.
RJ Barrett led New York with 27 points but it was a night for the backcourt pairing of Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes (22 points each) as they combined for 11 three-point shots made in the game.
“That backcourt, I love the way our perimeter is playing right now,” Thibodeau said. “The shooting really helps a lot and obviously the defense helps our team immensely.”
“Throw RJ in there (referring to the play of Brunson and Grimes) and then throw the bedsheet in. We’re mixing and matching.”
Asked about his career-high six three-point shots made, Brunson said, “It was just luck.” The point guard instead focused on the collective Knicks' effort, saying, “We’re clicking, helping each other out, and just putting each other in a position where we’re just finding each other, giving each other space.”
Five different Knicks hit at least one trey while four scored at least two times from beyond the three-point arc. The one man who didn’t? Derrick Rose, who went 1-3 from the floor hoisting all of those shots from three-point territory.
Rose had not graced a basketball court after the Knicks' defeat to Dallas back on Dec. 3, two weeks ago. Of course, it made sense for him to make a return to the hardwood on the comfy confines of Chicago. The crowd offered a loud ovation to the former Bulls great. “MVP! MVP!” chants were heard. Not to mention the explosion Rose produced with his lone three-pointer made.
“I’m just blessed that we played a great game and it allowed me to go out there and play,” said Rose. “To come here and to see all the love and receive all the love that we got, it was unreal.”
Thibodeau, who coached Derrick Rose in Chicago for five seasons, was asked about the potential retirement of Rose’s No. 1 jersey in Chicago, to which he said that he is “hopeful“ and that in his opinion “Rose is deserving” of it.
Speaking about that same topic, the very own Rose said that it would be “dope” for him to have his number retired in the Bulls organization, although it “wouldn’t be a big problem” for him if Chicago does not go that distance.
“I know the love I have received, no matter if it’s here or somewhere else, that’s all I need,” Rose said.
Even more, discussing a potential Hall of Fame induction, Rose said that he would be “very grateful for that,” although again, it would bother him if he doesn’t get there.
“In 200–300 years, nobody is going to care about what went on,” Rose reasoned. “For me, the knowledge, the wisdom, the love, the capital I got from this sport allowed me to do a lot, and I’m very grateful and appreciative of that.”
Back to the ongoing streak of victories and the result of the last two games his team has played, Thibodeau believes that “guys are building chemistry with each other on both sides of the ball.”
Thibodeau kept everybody on their toes saying that “yesterday’s win will have nothing to do with Sunday’s game.”
New York (16-13) faces Indiana (15-15) away from MSG on Sunday, Dec. 18th. The Knicks will return home next week to play four more games concluding with a meeting with Philadelphia on Christmas Day at the Garden.