Bulls-Knicks Preview

New York Knicks Status Check:
Record: 29-27
Division: 6-6
Conference: 22-17
Road Record: 10-17
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Won 2
Last game: 100-99 win over Chicago
PPG: 97.2 (13th)
Opponents PPG: 94.5 (11th)
Offensive Rating: 103.1 (22nd)
Defensive Rating: 100.2 (4th)
Pace: 93.6 (3rd)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .482 (16th)
Turnover Percentage: .150 (28th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .740 (9th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .275 (15th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .234 (6th)
Opp. eFG%: .480 (11th)
Opp. TO%: .162 (2nd)
Opp. FT/FGA: .225 (24th)
Leading scorer: Carmelo Anthony (21.5)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Knicks Injury Report:
Jeremy Lin: out 4-6 weeks (knee surgery)
Amare Stoudemire: out 2-4 weeks (bulging disc in back)

Overview:
Ever since Tom Thibodeau took over as coach of the Bulls, they have always come back from losses extremely well. Now they have a chance to get real revenge, against the New York Knicks team that dealt them their most recent defeat.

And was it an ugly one for much of the game. The Bulls fell down by 21 early, then, after climbing back into it, gave up a ten point lead with less than four minutes to go in the game. After that, they gave up two killer three-pointers launched by Carmelo Anthony, one to send it into overtime, the next to win it in the extra period.

The return of Derrick Rose was ruined by an ugly loss. And it wasn’t pretty for Rose.

Derrick’s touch around the rim was off. He shot a dismal 2-8 at the rim (Rose is shooting 60 percent at the rim this year). He also went 0-2 from 3-9 feet and 0-4 from 16-23 feet. And he got stripped a bunch of times driving to the basket, finishing with eight turnovers.

But while Rose is getting a lot of the blame (and somewhat of a break from some because he was coming back from injury) there are lots of guys you can point the finger at. I wasn’t sure Joakim Noah knew he was playing in a basketball game, until the overtime, and even then it wasn’t enough to make up for the first four quarters of bad play. Luol Deng went 4-16 from the field, including 0-5 from deep for just 13 points.

So who was the bright spot for the Bulls? Once again it was Carlos Boozer that looked best. Boozington was 6-11 for 13 points and also grabbed 16 boards (four offensive). Not a great night, but it’s all relative.

Taj Gibson also played well, going 5-8 from the field, for eleven points, while blocking 4 shots.

Praise also has to go to the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony was unstoppable, dropping 41 points on 16-31 shooting.

Tyson Chandler blocked three shots and grabbed 16 rebounds in a great effort. Ten of those sixteen boards were offensive, and he kept multiple shots alive in overtime by tipping the ball out to his teammates. Chandler did what the Bulls normally do.

Iman Shumpert shut down Rose, and stole everything except Derrick’s jersey. He picked Rose’s pocket better than this guy could have. Although Shumpert didn’t shoot very well (5-14) he finished with a great line: 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals.

The problems for the Bulls seem to be plentiful at this point in the season. The biggest issue for Chicago is that they have lost three of their last four games, with just nine games left to go before the playoffs. The sky may not be falling right now, but it definitely looks lower than it did a few weeks ago.

This isn’t the ideal time for a team to be slumping, but there could be a bright side. Maybe the losses will be a spark for Chicago. The Bulls aren’t a team that gets outworked much, but if their recent skid helps them avoid complacency the rest of the way, it’ll be a worthwhile slump.

The bounce-back mentality is often attributed to Thibs, and tonight he needs to bounce back and make some necessary adjustments. Chicago’s defensive match-ups were all off, and the Bulls were scrambling to find their man on defense multiple times, leading to easy baskets for New York.

The best thing would be for the Bulls to force New York to play to their game. But on Sunday, New York controlled the tempo and the game.

The Bulls don’t need to just avenge a loss; they need to show they are still the top team in the East. They need to continue winning at home. And they’re going to have to do it all over again on Thursday, when they play Miami.

Nine games left isn’t much time to get Rose and Hamilton back into the swing, but it’s all the Bulls have. Chicago can take a step in the right direction tonight with a win.

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