Kicking the Knicks

Ty block

Life’s funny sometimes. Back in January when the Bulls were getting embarrassed at the United Center by cellar dwellers like the Timberwolves, Thunder and Raptors, I expended a lot of energy trying to find the silver lining around every defeat…even when the only positive was “the earth did not open up and swallow the team.” But now that the Bulls have become nearly unstoppable at home — they’ve won five straight and 12 of their last 13 in the Windy City — I’m actually becoming morecynical, particularly since their three most recent home victories were a little too close for comfort. Take last night’s 110-103 win over the Knicks, for instance.

I guess that any team can beat any other team on any given night. I mean, we do after all live in a world where the Charlotte Bobcats have some strange power over the Los Angeles Lakers. But still, with their playoff spot still technically on the line, I want to see the Bulls crushteams like the Pacers, Nets and Knicks, especially at home. Such is, I suppose, the burden of raised expectations, when even 12 victories in 13 tries can feel ominous rather than reason for high fives and fist bumping.

I’m really not trying to be negative. I just have a problem with letting the Knicks come into Chicago and shoot over 50 percent, particularly when guys like Wilson Chandler (11-for-15), Al Harrington (10-for-16) and Quentin Richardson (7-for-12) were knocking down shots like it was a morning practice. Chandler and Harrington even combined to drill seven out of their eight three-point attempts. It’s called a face, guys. Get a hand in it.

The Bulls ended up waiting until the last 12 minutes to start playing defense. They forced eight turnovers in the final quarter, which included five steals, and 16 of their 29 fourth-quarter points were scored off the Knicks’ miscues. In fact, New York bumbled the ball away 19 times last night, which resulted in 28 bonus points for Chicago. That’s what happens when rather marginal players get plugged into Mike D’Antoni’s fun-and-gun offense.

I just feel like a little complacency has set in. The Bulls were pretty lackadaisical on D until the fourth, when they went on a 15-0 run to take control of the game. But instead of putting the score out of reach, they pulled back on the throttle and let the Knicks get close enough that the game wasn’t decided until Tyrus Thomas blocked Quentin Richardson’s three-point attempt with 16 seconds left. A little more killer instinct would be nice. Of course, I understand they need to conserve a little energy, what with Luol still out and Tim Thomas missing due to a “family situation.” Guys are logging big minutes. I understand that. But it still worries me…

Hot: Kirk Hinrich came off the bench to score a team-high 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He also had three steals.

Not hot: Brad Miller grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds (including 6 on the offensive end) and dished out 4 assists. But went 1-for-10 from the field and missed four layups. Strangely enough, he still had by far the best plus-minus score on the team (+18).

Welcome to bizarro world: Tyrus scored 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting. But here’s the weird part: He went 0-for-4 on layups and 2-for-3 from outside.

Player notes:  John Salmons finished with 19 points (7-for-16), 6 boards, 6 assists and 5 steals. Derrick Rose added 18 points (7-for-17) and 6 dimes. Ben Gordon chipped in with 17 points (6-for-15) and 5 rebounds. Speaking of boards, Joakim Noah grabbed 9 of them. Tyrus has all 4 of the team’s blocked shots.

Extras: Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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One Response to Kicking the Knicks

    Peter Clayton A. Smith April 8, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

    With all the games I have seen since the All-Star break, this is probably the worst the Bulls have played. They just didn’t seem to be into the game at all outside of two stretches, the 7-0 run in the third quarter that tied the game, and then the 15-0 run that gave the Bulls a 10 point lead they almost squandered at the end of the game.

    It could be that since I just despise the Knicks so much, I was more upset with bad play, but wow was there some bad play in Chicago last night by both teams.

    I am not expecting much on the defensive side of the ball from the Bulls at all, but last night was just horrid. I mean the Knicks shot 50% from the floor.

    The scene of the night may have been people on the floor trash talking Quentin Richardson, who then after nailing another of his threes pointed to his ears in an apparent manner to say “I can’t hear you”.

    The Bulls cannot come out this poorly in the next two games, but since the teams don’t suck as much as the Knicks, they probably won’t.

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