Final Result: The Bulls (18-24) lost to the Knicks (16-24) by the score of 102-98.
The Good: Derrick Rose had a strong game with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocked shots. Chicago’s starting big men played like, well, big men – Vinny Del Negro got double-doubles out of both Tyrus Thomas (19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocked shots) and Luol Deng (20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals) while Joakim Noah finished with 18 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Kirk Hinrich provided another solid performance off the pine (13 points, 5-for-10, 4 rebounds, 7 assists). The Bulls also banged their way to a 58-41 rebounding advantage, including 18-7 on the offensive glass. It probably helps that the Knicks, as a whole, seem to fear human contact. They might have caught that from Eddy Curry.
The bad: Derrick Rose shot poorly (9-for-20) and still can’t seem to get a whistle down the stretch. Or any other time. (Keep driving to the hoop, though, rookie!) Ben Gordon was misfiring so badly (3-for-15) that I started to wonder whether one of the Matadors spent Sunday night tap-dancing on his hands or something. Speaking of shooting woes, Andres Nocioni was 1-for-9 but mysterously had the best plus-minus score on the team (+5). Hey, science has proven that the Bulls need him on the floor. The Boys in Red also got pretty careless with the ball – their 17 turnovers were transmogrified into 24 points for the Knicks – particularly Thomas, who bumbled the ball away five times. The New Yorkers attempted way too many jump shots in which all five Bulls players appeared to have their hands velcroed to their hips. Oh, and Larry Hughes is still a spectator specter on the bench.
The ugly (and I mean World’s Ugliest Dog ugly): Okay, look. As a Bulls fan, if I have to watch one more clutch-time possession in which Ben Gordon dribbles wildly around the perimeter before launching a hopeless airball under impossible pressure, some vital internal organ of mine is going to explode. Violently. I just know it.
Meaningless Stat of the Night: Rose’s 20 points were the most scored by a number one overall draft pick making his Madison Square Garden debut since LeBron James had 22 on February 22, 2004. Don’t you feel enriched by this newfound knowledge? Now go forth and make merry!
Quote of the Night: Said Bulls coach and resident guru Vinny Del Negro: “We had too many turnovers. We did not shoot the ball well enough. At times, we had opportunities and couldn’t convert around the basket a few times. We turned it over too much for a team that likes to get out in the open court.” Oh, and the Knicks scored more points. Don’t forget that one, coach!