Game 4 Recap: Knicks 120, Bulls 112


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.”

No kidding.

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.

Bonus Stats:
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.

TrueHoop Network:
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?

Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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15 Responses to Game 4 Recap: Knicks 120, Bulls 112

    Tony C. November 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    Lots of whining around about Thibs decision to keep the starters on the bench. I don’t have any problem with it, and a commentator on another blog found this gem:

    “In the last 25 years teams that hit that many treys at that high of a percentage are 32-2.”

    In other words, it was highly unlikely that the Bulls would have won, even with Rose and Noah back in for the final four minutes. And given the game against the Celtics tonight, it was not unreasonable to rest them.

    Having said that, I really wish that the Bulls would tighten up their sloppy/lazy passing. They have to reduce the turnovers – especially the bad ones – in order to reach their potential.

    Also, I know it’s early, but I much prefer the performance of Flip Murray last season to CJ Watson’s game thus far. Watson is quick enough to create an open shot now and then, but continues to shoot abysmally.

    Korver, in stark contrast, should be given increased minutes, as he is obviously the best shooter on the team, and has been a pleasant surprise in other areas.

    Finally, in spite of the continued criticisms of Bogans by fans, his play has remains solid. He played good defense last night, and when he left the game in the fourth (appearing to have possibly tweaked something), the Knicks promptly scored nine straight.

    dave November 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    couple things:

    we should have won that game a la the detroit comeback a couple days ago. the things holding us back were, as usual, poorly chosen shots and turnovers in key situations. James Johnson and CJ Watson were guilty of the latter, and I hold Watson more responsible as distribution is his main job description. Watson as well took some very poor shots that disrupted the momentum.
    Overall down the stretch I thought the Bulls got the stops they needed and were playing at the appropriate intensity–so why wasn’t Rose inserted to give some direction?! Steve Kerr mentioned that if the crowd chants for a coach to make a sub, the coach shouldn’t, lest he give the impression of losing control. This, and the explanation that since the backups got us in the game they should finish it, is preposterous. The backups tired at the end and they didn’t have (with the exception of Korver) the offensive wherewithal to finish the job. If the right decision is to put your studs in to finish the game you do it, crowd chants or no. This was a very winnable game.

    Gorditadog November 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Watson had another tough night, he is not a point guard. I think he would have been better last night playing at the two alongside Rose, he is hard to guard and could have matched up well on Douglas. We need to add another point guard, though. If Lucas was out there for five minutes last night it would have helped.

    Also, Luol got the idea again last night that he is Kobe Bryant, creating several one-on-three situations that ended badly. Five turnovers? A man’s got to know his own limitations.

  4. Brian November 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    I totally one hundred percent agree with Tony C…every comment you made I was going to write in this post. On the other hand, Gorditadog…yea Deng is gonna act like that when he’s coming off of a career best night. And you’re mad about five turnovers??? That’s not even that bad. I bet we’d be hard pressed to find a team that shoots 66% from 3-point land with that many attempts the rest of the season. Nothing to say except it wasn’t our night, but it was definitely the Knicks. Toney Douglas is just another reason why I hate Florida St.

    Matt McHale November 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    “Having said that, I really wish that the Bulls would tighten up their sloppy/lazy passing. They have to reduce the turnovers – especially the bad ones – in order to reach their potential.”

    Agreed. I like that Thibs has clearly emphasized passing and you can see the Bulls are intent on working the ball inside. But still…guys are just flinging the ball around at times.

    “Also, I know it’s early, but I much prefer the performance of Flip Murray last season to CJ Watson’s game thus far. Watson is quick enough to create an open shot now and then, but continues to shoot abysmally. ”

    I wanted to emphasize other points in this post, but yes: C.J.’s misdirected shooting (1-for-7) and lack of playmaking ability are proving to be a huge disappointment. So, yet again, D-Rose has no reliable backup.

    “Korver, in stark contrast, should be given increased minutes, as he is obviously the best shooter on the team, and has been a pleasant surprise in other areas.”

    I have to agree and admit that, although I agree with your assessment of Bogans, I would like to see Korver start. In the early going, the Bulls were trying to attack the rim, as they should have. But the spacing wasn’t the best, and that was because the Bulls had no consistent, high-percentage shooters on the floor. As the Knicks showed us last night, good shooting can open up lanes.

    “Overall down the stretch I thought the Bulls got the stops they needed and were playing at the appropriate intensity–so why wasn’t Rose inserted to give some direction?!”

    I don’t think Thibs was pleased with the defense being played by the starters. The reserves were giving more of an effort. Thibodeau might have been sending a message, and he might have been sticking with the group of players showing the most energy, or both.

    We need to add another point guard, though.”


    “Also, Luol got the idea again last night that he is Kobe Bryant, creating several one-on-three situations that ended badly. Five turnovers? A man’s got to know his own limitations.”

    Look, Luol (presumably under Thibodeau’s influence) has realized he needs to be more aggressive attacking the basket. I agree. But it’s an adjustment from his old M.O. of just chucking up midrange jumpers. Give it time.

    I should also note that part of Deng’s problem was spacing. He was driving into crowds because the unit he was playing with couldn’t space the floor due to lack of shooting.

    Brad S. November 5, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Last night was a lesson in what happens when D’Antoni’s offense is done right. Its not so much that the Bulls did anything terribly wrong, but D’Antoni’s team becomes almost unbeatable.

    …It’s just that you can’t count on your team shooting 50% for the game and 66.7% from 3 point range throughout the play-offs.

  7. Chris F November 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    For the most part a flukey loss, the threes they were making were just crazy. The bulls win this game at home against the knicks more often than not. That being said, The second unit on this team is a mess! Thibs played Brian Scalabrine 7 minutes in this game, to the tune of a -12 point differential. There isn’t a team in the NBA Scalabrine should get 7 minutes on. The Bulls are going to get destroyed whenever they try to go at someone with a lineup that has Scal, Omer Askik, CJ Watson, and James Johnson on the floor at the same time, and thats the lineup we were using for most of the second quarter when the Knicks pulled away from us. Thibs actually had Scalabrine on Amare! Terrible.

    Glenn November 5, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    While maybe this might seem a stretch to some, I feel Thibs’ decision to keep the reserves in there were somewhat Phil Jackson like (good thing). During the Bulls fist championship season 91-92, Jackson would decide to leave the reserves in during a game in which, had Jordan and Pippen and grant been put back on the floor, the bulls would have won the game. This use to upset Jordan and the fans alike, but Jackson had his reasons. He was testing and pushing the reserves, he did it in the early games (like last nights Knicks one) so that they would be ready later in the season when we really needed them. He knew that If he just sent Jordan and pippen back in every time to rescue the situation, the reserves would never learn to do it themselves, and thus likely not play as hard or as well as they could, always knowing that the starters could save the game if need be. While at the time Jackson’s decision to bench the starters seemed stupid as it cost them a few wins, it translated into 6 championships and one of the greates dynasty’s of all time. While a lot more than that one event created that dynasty, I thought it might be some nice food for thought

  9. TBF November 5, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    Yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of that second quarter line-up. And Scal needs to sit down. He doesn’t play defense, he can’t score…he can’t do anything, really. He should be a junk body we can toss in for 2 minutes and then at the end of the game. He can’t be getting 7 minutes a night.

    That said, I’m really, really starting to get tired of Keith Bogans and C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer. They really need to step up and do something. Totally invisible, all 3 of them. And for the love of god, C.J. stop shooting. Let someone else brick for a change.

    Fluky loss that we’d win more times than not. Sometimes the other guys just can’t miss. It happens.

  10. Inception November 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    what a freak game….NY is not that good…i’m sorry, but they just happened to hit every damn shot they took….bulls will kill ’em next time…mark it down.

  11. Inception November 5, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    also, brewer will in the starting lineup pretty soon….i think thibs is waiting for boozer to get in there since the chemistry is there between those two….brewer > bogans

    inkybreath November 5, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    One thing we can feel good about was seeing Brewer hounding the ball at the top of the key toward the end of the game. He is here to fill the Thabo/Kirk defensive intensity and there was a glimpse of it last night. I’m going to give him a break, as his is the type of game where he needs all his quickness to be effective.

    As hard as it has been to see Scal out there. You can imagine that Thibs trusts him as a way to buy some time with Booz out and coaxing Asik into the flow of the league. And, if JJ settles down at all, Scal with only see mop-up time.

    zillaa November 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    Thank you Matt and some other posters for being the only people I’ve seen comment on this game at all that thought the Bulls defense could honestly do anything about a team taking (almost) as many shots as people in the 3 point shootout at all-star weekend and making more than most of the participants. The Bulls probably could have done more, but this is one of those games I’m okay with the Bulls losing: The one they’re just supposed to lose. Hopefully Boston plays like normal Boston, and we’ll have a great game tonight.


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