Bulls-Knicks Preview

New York Knicks Status Check:
Record: 19-6
Division: 4-1
Conference: 13-2
Home Record: 11-1
Last 10 Games: 8-2
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 100-86 win over Nets
PPG: 102.8 (5th)
Opponents PPG: 96.2 (9th)
Offensive Rating: 112.8 (2nd)
Defensive Rating: 105.5 (15th)
Pace: 90.8 (23rd)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .521 (4th)
Turnover Percentage: .104 (1st)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .745 (6th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .237  (26th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .192 (22nd)
Opp. eFG%: .507 (26th)
Opp. TO%: .153 (5th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .209 (17th)
Leading scorer: Carmelo Anthony (28.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Knicks Injury Report:
Rasheed Wallace: out (foot)
Amare Stoudemire: doubtful (knee)
Iman Shumpert: out (knee)
Steve Novak: questionable (illness)
Marcus Camby: out indefinitely (plantar fasciitis)

Overview:
It’s been 12 days since the Bulls topped the Knicks 93-85 when they were without Carmelo Anthony. Since that game Chicago has been up and down, going 3-2. New York, on the other hand, has been hot, going 5-1 since that loss to the Bulls.

New York, who is second in offensive efficiency in the league, was held to a seaon-low 85 points against the Bulls on December 8, as well as a season low in field goal percentage. The Knicks average 102.8 points per contest. But shutting other teams down is what the Bulls do. They’ve allowed opponents to score 90 points just twice in the month of December, and they came out on top in one of those games (an overtime win against the Pistons). Chicago has allowed 100 points just once since November 18.

The Bulls will have their hands full with Melo back this time though. Anthony is averaging 28.0 points per game and 32.8 in the six games he has played in December. He’s shooting 48.9 percent from deep and 49.3 percent from the field. He is a career 33.1 percent three point shooter and 45.7 overall.

Anthony scored 31 points in the Knicks’ last time out against their new crosstown-rival Nets, after missing the previous two games with a sprained ankle. “He looked good to me,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “If he’s not 100 percent, I’ll take whatever percent he was, because that was awesome.”

It isn’t just Melo shooting at a career best rate. The Knicks are fourth in the league in effective field goal percentage. Jason Kidd seems to have found the fountain of youth. He’s shooting 44.6 percent from three, but most important he is not turning the ball over. Kidd is averaging just 1.2 turnovers per 36 minutes. His next best season he was turning it over 2.3 times per 36.

The Knicks as a team are doing a great job holding onto the ball. New York is first in the league in turnover percentage (10.4). They are also forcing their opponents into mistakes, ranking fifth in opponent turnover percentage (.153).

Joakim Noah, who has been the brightest spot for the Bulls all season, is coming off of his second career triple-double. Jo recorded eleven points, 13 rebounds and ten assists in Chicago’s win over Boston. Carlos Boozer (21 points), Luol Deng (21) and Nate Robinson (18) all scored well as the Bulls shot 50 percent as a team. Taj Gibson, who has struggled most of the season, even put in a solid game tallying 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.

For all the good, Kirk Hinrich brought the bad. He went scoreless in his 24 minutes of action, tallying two rebounds and two assists. At least he didn’t have any turnovers in the game. Marquis Teague played seven minutes and almost matched Kirk’s numbers (Teague recorded two assists and one rebound).

Once again Thibs was stubborn with his rotation even though Hinrich wasn’t playing well at all. It wasn’t even as if he was shutting down Rondo. The Celtics’ guard scored 26 points and dished eight assists. Those 26 points are a season-high for Rondo.

New York, who is currently the top team in the East, has lost just one home game this season. They average 104.8 points per game at home, compared to 100.9 on the road. Chicago is 6-4 on the road this season.

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