January 11, 2013
New York Knicks Status Check:
Home Record: 13-4
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Lost 2
Last game: 81-76 loss to Indiana
PPG: 101.5 (8th)
Opponents PPG: 96.7 (12th)
Offensive Rating: 111.5 (2nd)
Defensive Rating: 106.2 (20th)
Pace: 90.8 (21st)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .513 (6th)
Turnover Percentage: .107 (1st)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .746 (5th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .246 (24th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .189 (23rd)
Opp. eFG%: .506 (26th)
Opp. TO%: .147 (6th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .208 (18th)
Leading scorer: Carmelo Anthony (29.0)
Stats from Basketball-Reference
Knicks Injury Report:
Marcus Camby: left Thursday’s game (foot)
Raymond Felton: out (broken right pinky)
Iman Shumpert: out (knee)
Rasheed Wallace: out (stress reaction in foot)
Chicago goes for its third win in as many tries against the Knicks this season, as New York tries to avoid dropping both games of a back-to-back.
The Knicks lost to Indiana last night, without their star player. Carmelo Anthony was serving a one-game suspension for waiting outside the Celtics’ team bus for Kevin Garnett. New York, who averages 101.5 points per game, really struggled to score without their starting forward. They shot just 34.8 percent from the field and finished with only 76 points, by far their lowest total of the season (their next lowest scoring effort was 85, against the Bulls on December 8).
The Knicks starters scored just 35 points. Indiana’s bench, who employs the likes of Tyler Hansbrough, Ian Mahinmi and Gerald Green (in a non-Dunk Contest environment), scored 32 points. J.R. Smith scored 25 points off the bench for New York, but it took him 29 shots to do so. Tyson Chandler was the only Knick to shoot at least 50 percent. Chandler had a solid game, scoring 12 points and grabbing 15 boards, but the reigning Defensive Player of the Year was the only Knick starter to have fewer shots taken than points scored. Ronnie Brewer nearly had an 8-trillion, but he ruined it by having a single assist (miss you, Ronnie).
But the Pacers do this to pretty much everyone they play. Indy is second in opponent points per game (89.1) and first in defensive rating (98.5). The Pacers haven’t allowed more than 94 points since December.
The Bulls will be getting a somewhat tired Knicks team that is already pretty old. Jason Kidd played 31 minutes, Tyson Chandler played 38, J.R. Smith played 40 minutes, and Marcus Camby re-aggravated a foot injury in his 20 minutes. Keep in mind Amare Stoudemire is also returning from injury and was told by team doctors to limit his minutes. Anthony will obviously be well-rested, as he hasn’t played since Monday’s loss to the Celtics.
The Bulls held New York to 32.1 percent shooting in their first match-up, and 41.8 in their second go-around. The first game the Knicks didn’t have Carmelo, and they were missing Stoudemire in both. The Knicks will be without Raymond Felton for the first time in the series. Felton averaged 24.0 points per game, but shot 35.3 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from beyond the arc in the two games versus Chicago.
The Knicks are not playing their best basketball of the year right now. They started off smoking hot from the field, but they’ve dropped every month of the season thus far. In November New York shot 41.6 percent from three, in December it fell to 37.1. So far in January, they are shooting 34.9 percent from deep. They have also dropped in overall shooting, steals and points per game.
Those numbers translate to the Knicks being just 4-6 in their last ten games, coming back to earth from their great start and amazing shooting. New York is 4-3 on the second night of back-to-backs, averaging 104 points per game, but giving up 108.3.
The Bulls are having their best shooting month, at 46.4 percent, more than 2 percent better than the next highest month. They are also shooting 48 percent from three, nearly 17 percent better than they did in November. It’s only four games in, and knowing the Bulls’ offense things could change quickly, but these numbers are solid signs of improvement from a team whose offense needs to vastly improve.
The Knicks score a lot of points, and even though the Bulls are 5th in defensive rating, New York is going to get their points. Brandon Jennings torched the Bulls for 35 points and Milwaukee scored 104, when they average 96.5. The Bulls are going to have to bring a better defensive effort, especially Luol Deng on Anthony, if they want to start their own back-to-back with a win. At least this time it will be Deng on the opposing team’s best scorer, rather than Nate Robinson.
Bad blood: Last time the two teams met, there were four ejections. It started with Carmelo Anthony being ejected in the fourth quarter. I don’t think Honey Nut Cheerios, or any cereal, played a part in this ejection, although you can never be too sure. Knicks coach Mike Woodson followed and then Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler were later tossed. I nominate Nazr Mohammed to get thrown out this time.
June 28, 2011
The Bulls need an upgrade at the shooting guard position. Management knows it. Fans know it. Everybody knows it. And when Gar Forman chose not to use a draft pick to address that need, it was (one assumes) a sign that he plans to fill that spot via trade or free agency.
Personally, I was really hoping the Bulls could swing a deal for O.J. Mayo or Rudy Fernandez. Unfortunately, the Dallas Mavericks already snagged Rudy. Mayo’s availability is currently unknown. But I’m going to save trade speculation for another day.
For a full list of available free agents, click this link. Here are my thoughts on some possible FA targets.
Jamal Crawford: He can score. There’s no question about that. And his offensive game has variety: He can hit from midrange, knock down threes (although not at a high percentage), come off screens, and create open (and contested) looks off the dribble.
Unfortunately, Crawford’s mug shot can be found next to the word “streaky” in the dictionary, and he can submarine his team when his shot isn’t falling. That’s because scoring is pretty much all he does. And he’s never shown much determination or focus on defense. He’s sort of the Bizzaro version of Keith Bogans.
Still, the Bulls would give Crawford a chance at the right price, and with good reason. His scoring could open up the floor and I’m willing to bet Tom Thibodeau could make him into a servicable defender. I’m just not sure whether there’s enough cap space to make a competitive offer.
Jason Richardson: For starters, I don’t think the Bulls will be able afford him. He’s 30 years old and probably seeking his last significant contract. And even if the Bulls could afford him, would they want to give him the long-term deal he’s likely to be seeking?
According to Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “Richardson turned 30 in January, and that’s a dangerous time for swingmen of his ilk. Seventy-two percent of players with a similarity score of 95 or higher to Richardson, based on our SCHOENE Projection System, declined the following season. On average, their overall performance dropped off by nearly 10 percent. Michael Finley, one of Richardson’s closest matches, is a good example of what might lie ahead for Richardson. Finley’s last above-average season came at age 31, and a year after that, the Mavericks used the amnesty provision in the 2005 collective bargaining agreement to waive him.”
That pretty much says it all. Richardson is worth a look, but I’m guessing his asking price will be too high for the projected returns.
J.R. Smith: Not gonna happen. Like Crawford, his skill set begins and ends with “scoring.” He’s as streaky as they come, capable of shooting his team into and out of games. And, as Charles Barkley might say, he’s instant offense on both ends of the court. But the biggest concern is his attitude. Smith has a history of fiery behavior and questionable decision-making, which doesn’t fit in with the basketball culture Gar Forman and Thibs are trying to create.
Shannon Brown: Here’s an intriguing possibility. Brown is a super athletic player who can finish at the rim (especially in transition) and shoot from midrange and long range. He doesn’t have great handles and can’t create his own shot. He also doesn’t get to the line as often as his athleticism should allow. Those are problems. As is his relatively low accuracy from three-point range (34.9 percent last season). But Brown has championship pedigree, loads of potential, and (most likely) a low price tag. Plus Chicago is his home town. He fits in with the whole “high character” and “build for the future” components of the team’s culture.
Anthony Parker: There was a lot of talk about the Bulls obtaining Parker at the trade deadline last February. Now he’s an unrestricted free agent who will probably draw mild interest around the league. He’s a dependable veteran who defends, has three-point range (40.9 percent for his career), and can be counted on to work hard and make good decisions.
Still, Parker is 36 years old and the (relatively few) skills he has seem to be in decline. He might make a nice addition off the bench, but he isn’t a solution to the team’s shooting guard quandary.
Tracy McGrady: Ha! Just kidding.
Michael Redd: Hm. Redd could be a bargain pickup at the vet’s minimum. However, he’s a former “franchise” player who was used to getting most of his team’s shots, and there’s no way to know how much he has left after multiple knee injuries. Redd can shoot, but can he fit in as a role player? That is, can he score efficiently while getting only 5-10 shots a game? I kind of doubt it. And he was a terrible defender before all his injuries. Now imagine him facing off against Dwayne Wade…
Richard Hamilton: He’s not a free agent, but he could be if the Pistons waive him or trade his contract to another team (such as the Cavaliers) who then waive him. If that happens, Rip would definitely be worth signing to a bargain (and probably short-term) deal. He’s more of a midrange shooter who has never hit a high percentage from three-point range (34.7 percent for his career), so spacing could be an issue. He’s obviously great moving without the basketball, plus he can create shots and draw fouls.
Still, Hamilton is 33 and (as ESPN’s John Hollinger points out) his PER and TS% have been in steady decline. What’s more, last season’s reported feud with former Pistons coach John Kuester makes you wonder where his head is at these days.
Vince Carter: He’s not a free agent yet, so this is speculation made under the assumption that the Suns will waive him to get his radioactive contract off their books.
Quick question: Is he an upgrade over Keith Bogans? Quick answer: No. Lazy on defense and increasingly apathetic on offense, Carter’s star has collapsed on itself, creating a black hole that could suck the life out of a team. The fact that he was traded to Phoenix last season and didn’t experience a strong surge in scoring is a real red flag. I mean…13.5 PPG on 42.2 percent shooting while playing with Steve Nash? Uh oh. And He averaged only 1.9 FTA after the trade.
I suppose there are a few reasons to take a chance on Carter assuming he’s willing to accept a minimum deal and a vastly reduced role. But he’s a 34-year-old former superstar with a history of dogging it or disappearing entirely when the going gets tough. The Bulls seem to be building for the future on a foundation of high-character players.
November 23, 2009
I started worrying about this game the night before it even happened. Not because the Bulls were facing a good team on the road, or because they had played so poorly in Los Angeles against the Lakers, or even because of their ugly history of losing on their annual circus trip.
No, I got nervous after watching the Denver Nuggets — Chicago’s Saturday night opponent — lose a nationally televised game to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
Teams like the Nuggets (who entered the game 8-3, have a former Finals MVP in Chauncey Billups, and have a potential MVP candidate in Carmelo Anthony) don’t usually get beaten by teams like the Clippers (who are, after all, the Clippers). To make matters worse, it was Denver’s fourth loss in its last five road games. And you could tell the Nuggets players were none too pleased.
Said Billups: “It’s not like a few years ago, where you play the Clippers or somebody and it’s just another game. We have to somehow realize that we are everybody’s big game. It’s a very tough loss, but we have to forget about this game and focus on tomorrow night.”
Oh great, I thought. Now the Bulls have to face a pissed off team playing at home with something to prove.
Simply put, it wasn’t good news for a squad that’s gone 96-191 on the road over the past seven seasons and 9-56 on their circus trip this decade. So imagine my surprise when the Bulls were leading 27-14 after the first quarter.
It didn’t last.
The Bulls got exploited on defense by explosive players, whether it was Billups (who helped get the Nuggets back in the game by scoring 14 second-quarter points), ‘Melo (30 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists), or J.R. Smith (who scored 12 of his 19 points in the four quarter).
Said Derrick Rose: “”Chauncey went off on us in the second quarter and got them back in the game and then J.R. started hitting shots in the fourth. He’s tough to guard. It’s hard to guard him when he’s shooting from everywhere.”
Chicago kept things close for 36 minutes and even took a 71-70 lead when D-Rose hit a 12-footer with 53 seconds left in the third quarter. But the Nuggets outscored the Bulls 37-22 in the fourth quarter to win going away. So the Chicago’s 14-point lead turned into a 19-point loss. Ugly.
It was the second consecutive time the Bulls were simply outplayed by a superior opponent. Depending on your perspective, that could be good or bad. Good because at least they didn’t lose to a crappy team, bad because they aren’t really ready to play with the big boys yet.
The Four Factors:
Chicago got only two dunks, hit only half of their layup attempts (11-for-22), shot 39 percent on jumpers (22-for-56), and missed nine of their 11 three-point attempts. Not surprisingly, Denver won Effective Field Goal Percentage (52.9 to 45.6). The Nuggets also won Turnover Percentage (12.2 to 16.3), Offensive Rebounding Percentage (26.1 to 21.7), and Free Throw Rate (only 30.2 to 29.6, but still).
When a team gets swept in all four of the Four Factors, that team is probably going to lose.
Pluses and Minues:
The Bulls were -3 in points from free throws, -5 in points from three-pointers, -17 in points from field goals, and -18 in points in the paint. They were +3 in fast break points and +2 in points off turnovers.
Derrick Rose vowed to become more aggressive, and he has been. Against the Nuggets, Rose scored a team-high 28 points (4-for-7 on layups, 7-for-13 on jumpers, 0-for-1 from downtown and 6-for-7 from the line). He also had 6 rebounds. However, he dished out only 3 assists while committing a game-high 5 turnovers. I’m encouraged that Derrick is creating opportunities for himself on offense. Now he needs to create for his teammates too.
Luol Deng continued his comeback with 22 points (9-for-19), and 4 blocked shots. That last number is even more impressive when you consider the Bulls had only 5 blocks in the game (Taj Gibson). Deng stuffed ‘Melo three times and even swatted Nene once.
Gibson also had a decent game, all things considered. He grabbed a game-high 12 boards (5 offensive) to go with 9 points, 2 steals, an assist and that block.
It was another rough night for John Salmons, who went 2-for-11 from the field and finished with only 5 points and not much of anything else. And since misery loves company, Kirk Hinrich joined Salmons in his shooting woes by going 3-for-10 and ending up with the team’s worst plus-minus score (-20).
Pain in the Paint:
The Bulls can probably be forgiven for once again getting exploited by an opposing froncourt player, because Carmelo Anthony has been doing that to everybody this season. But Chicago was outrebounded 47-41 and outscored 52-34 in points in the paint. They also gave up eight dunks and 14 layups.
Don’t worry about that clanging sound you keep hearing. It’s just Chicago’s three-point shooting. Wait. On second thought, worry. The Bulls are currently 26th in Three-Point Percentage (.290). Only the Grizzlies, Bobcats, Nets and Timberwolves are shooting worse from long range. Take note that those four teams have a combined record of 9-43. I’ll go ahead and let you draw your own conclusions.
Oddly enough, despite adding Ben Gordon, the Detroit Pistons are only ranked 25th (.305). In fact, Gordon is shooting 39 percent, which is a career-low. You know, in case you were interested.
Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.