That’s what the Knicks shot from three-point range last night. For those of you who enjoy simple math, that’s a 66 percent rate of accuracy.
Let’s compare that to how well New York shot threes in their first three games: 7-for-24 (29 percent), 9-for-27 (33 percent) and 7-for-28 (25 percent).
So yeah. I’d say their shooting performance was a bit of a surprise.
Speaking of surprises, how about Danilo Gallinari. Check out the kid’s game log. Going into last night’s game, he had scored 18 points on the season while going 5-for-25 (20 percent) from the field and 2-for-11 (18 percent) from downtown. Last night, Gallinari scored 24 points – 21 in the first half – on 7-for-11 (63 percent) shooting, including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc.
It doesn’t stop there.
Toney Douglas had been playing better than Gallinari. He’d scored 32 points in New York’s first three games while going 14-for-28 (50 percent) from the field…although only 3-for-12 (25 percent) from three-point range. Last night, Douglas wet 9-for-14 (64 percent) from the field and 5-for-9 (55 percent) on threes. He finished with a career-high 30 points.
Said Douglas: “I make sure that every time I shoot it that I have confidence that it’s going in. I can miss 10 in a row. I’m going to shoot the next one and make it.”
Added New York coach Mike D’Antoni: “Once you start to see the ball going in from different people it makes it a lot easier for everyone else.”
The confidence of every Knicks player seemed to go up with every made three. I mean, shooting nearly 70 percent from long distance? It’s hard enough to do that in an empty gym, let alone against living, breathing defenders in front of their home crowd.
The crazy thing is, the Bulls had a great offensive night themselves, shooting 52 percent from the field and nearly 50 on threes (9-for-19). Derrick Rose (24 points, 14 assists) was great, Kyle Korver (18 points, 7-for-10) was on fire, Taj Gibson was firing on all cylinders (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Joakim Noah was Joakim Noah (12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks).
But New York’s long-distance shooting killed them. It’s not like the Bulls weren’t playing any D at all. They held New York to 42 percent shooting (24-for-56) inside the arc, even forcing Amar’e Stoudemire into a 5-for-21 performance. Yes, they were slow to rotate on several three-point attempts. And some rotations were missed. But several of those threes were also contested. The Knicks were just unconscious. Raymond Felton — a 32 percent career three-point shooter — went 4-for-6. Bill Walker and Landry Fields each went 1-for-1.
It was demoralizing. Especially at the end of the first half, when everybody in a Bulls uniform looked shell-shocked. What can you do when your opponent is shooting beyond lights out? Every Chicago run was answered by another three-pointer or two or three or…they just kept coming. Next thing you know, the Bulls were leaving their feet, reaching in, and hacking their way to giving up 29 free throw attempts.
The Knicks were even on fire from the line, going 24-for-29 (82 percent) after shooting 18-for-27 (66 percent) and 14-for-25 (59 percent) in their previous two games.
The Bulls further hurt their cause with careless passing, giving up 26 points off 20 turnovers. The starters combined for 14 of those turnovers. Don’t get me wrong. The extra passing is leading to offense — Chicago had 27 assists on their 42 buckets — but you don’t want it leading to offense for the other team too.
Well, that’s what happened last night. Especially during the final stunning minutes of the second quarter. With the Knicks leading by 20-ish and closing in on a 70-point first half, the Bulls became sluggish and confused, leading to a terrible sequence of possessions. Noah was called for a three-second violation. Gibson traveled. Deng had the ball stolen by Gallinari and then committed an offensive foul on the next possession.
Not only were the Bulls unable to make a pre-halftime run, they couldn’t even get shots off.
It’s no wonder Tom Thibodeau yanked Noah, Rose and Deng for all or most of the fourth quarter. Credit the reserves — and Korver’s shooting — for making something of a game out of this abomination. A three-pointer by Korver cut New York’s lead to 95-87 with 11:21 to go in the fourth…but Douglas nailed a trey on the Knicks’ next possession.
That’s just how it went.
And now the Bulls play the Celtics in Boston tonight. Could be trouble.
From the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN’s Daily Dime):
The Knicks outscored the Bulls 70-52 in the first half en route to a 120-112 victory in Chicago. It was only the second time in the past 20 seasons that the Knicks scored 70 or more points in the first half of a road game. The other instance was at Orlando on Dec. 27, 2004, when they scored 71 first-half points in a 119-111 win over the Magic.
The Knicks’ 120 points marked New York’s highest output in any regular-season or playoff game against its long-time rival in more than two decades. They last reached 120-plus points versus the Bulls in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference semis, a 121-114 victory for the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, in which Patrick Ewing had a team-high 32 points. New York also scored 120 or more points against the Bulls three times during the 1988-89 regular season.
Mike Kurylo of KnickerBlogger: “Oddly enough the Bulls sat out their star players Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah for most of the 4th quarter. Coach Thibodeau stayed with his reserves down the stretch, perhaps because many of them helped to come back from a 28 point half time deficit. The Bulls fans were cheering for Rose with about 3 minutes left, to no avail. Chicago relied on Kyle Korver’s shooting late in the game, but were unable to come back from such a large deficit.”
Also, Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook shows how the Bulls shut down Amar’e Stoudemire. Hey, Sebastian, can you draw up a way to stop the Knicks from hitting 60+ percent of their threes?