Game Recap: Bulls 104, Knicks 99

The Bulls were once again missing three key players — Luol Deng (wrist), Rip Hamilton (shoulder), and C.J. Watson (ankle) — but pulled out yet another win in their typical grind-it-out fashion.

Meanwhile the Knicks lost their sixth straight game, making Linsanity feel like a distant memory.

I always say rebounding is a sign of how hard a team was fighting. Now check out these numbers: The Bulls were +18 in total rebounds (56-38), +13 in offensive rebounds (22-9), and +18 in second chance points (24-6).

Yep. This game was won in the trenches.

Six Bulls players had at least 6 rebounds: Derrick Rose (6), Kyle Korver (7), Ronnie Brewer (7), Carlos Boozer (7), Joakim Noah (10) and Taj Gibson (13).

Five of them had at least 2 offensive boards: Jimmy Butler (2), Rose (2), Korver (3), Noah (4) and Gibson (8).

Led by Gibson and Butler, the Bulls dominated the glass and made all the hustle plays, which allowed them to overcome a poor shooting night for the team in general (43.1 percent) and Rose in particular (12-for-29).

The Bulls even missed nine free throws (19-for-28).

But, as Hubie Brown might say, defense and rebounding make up for a multitude of sins.

Said Gibson: “Like Thibs always says, you give yourself a chance to win when you defend and rebound. We’re a good rebounding team and that’s what we capitalize on. We try to get every 50/50 ball and just play with a lot of energy. No matter what. It just worked our way.”

It did. Just as it did most of last season and now most of this season. The Bulls grind out wins by outworking their opponents rather than overwhelming them with talent.

On the subject of talent, Rose (32 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) has not been a happy camper lately, and last night was no exception. Even though he attempted a game-high nine free throws, Rose felt he wasn’t getting the proper respect from the officials. Which might explain why he went only 6-for-12 at the rim and had six of his shots blocked.

Said Rose: “I’ve got to be the only superstar in the league that’s going through what I’m going through right now. Can’t say too much about it.”

And regarding the angry face he made during his unusually ferocious fourth quarter dunk (vidoe above): “I kind of like blacked out right there, where I’ll probably have to see it to go through it again, to tell you how I felt. I probably was mad because they weren’t calling no calls the whole game.”

These are telling comments.

Yes, it was a physical game. Yes, there was uncalled contact around the rim, which is probably why the Bulls missed 21 of their 41 shot attempts at the rim (48 percent) against a Knicks team that ranks 18th in the league in opponent field goal percentage at the rim (63 percent).

But that’s not anything Rose and the Bulls haven’t seen before.

Still, lately I’ve seen Rose doing more wincing, grimacing and, yes, even complaining after non-calls than he ever has before. He’s even venting frustration to the press and referring to himself as a superstar.

It’s interesting because, over the course of his career, Rose has been the picture of humility and probably has the lowest non-call-to-complaint ratio of all time.

So what’s changed?

Is his ego finally catching up to his talent? Is it a sign of how seriously he’s taking himself and his team’s chances of winning a title? Is he simply worn down by years of getting smacked on his many forays to the basket? Or maybe he’s finally figured out that sometimes superstars have to grease the officials.

Why doesn’t Rose get more calls when he drives to the hoop? Because he’s so big and strong for a PG?

Said Boozer: Said Boozer: “Yeah, because he’s so strong … he finishes so many plays where he does get contact. Sometimes they let it go, but you can’t let it go all the time. You’ve got to make the call. You saw in the third quarter, you’re just trying to force the issue. He got to the line a bunch in the third quarter. But he could have got to the line maybe 10 times in the first half.”

It could also be because Rose, as has been stated before, is very adept at avoiding contact around the rim. Whereas many of the players who lead the league in free throw attempts drive straight into contact.

Anyway, some numbers to consider:

Shot Attempts at the Rim:
1. Blake Griffin (7.8)
2. Greg Monroe (7.8)
3. Dwight Howard (7.2)
4. Tyreke Evans (7.2)
5. Nikola Pekovic (7.0)
6. Dwayne Wade (6.8)
7. Kevin Love (6.7)
8. LeBron James (6.7)
9. DeMarcus Cousins (6.7)
10. David Lee (6.4)
11. Russell Westbrook (6.4)
12. Andrew Bynum (6.1)
13. Derrick Rose (6.1)

Free Throw Attempts Per Game:
1. Dwight Howard (10.8)
2. Kevin Love (8.7)
3. LeBron James (8.6)
4. Kobe Bryant (7.9)
5. Kevin Durant (7.6)
6. Blake Griffin (7.5)
7. Corey Maggette (7.1)
8. Carmelo Anthony (6.9)
9. John Wall (6.7)
10. Dwyane Wade (6.5)
11. Brook Lopez (6.4)
12. James Harden (6.4)
13. Rodney Stuckey (6.3)
14. Derrick Rose (6.2)

I’m not drawing any conclusions from these numbers. Just pointing them out. You will note that Kobe Bryant ranks 4th in FTAs (7.9) despite ranking 59th in shot attempts at the rim (3.8). The reason? Kobe is very savvy at drawing contact. Rose could learn from him.

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

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