You know how they say there’s an easy way and a hard way? Well, for the Bulls, there’s a hard way…period. How else do you explain falling behind by 17 points in the first quarter at home against an 8-16 team?
Fortunately for Chicago, the Knicks don’t always play what you’d call “smart” basketball. For example, New York jacked up three-pointer after three-pointer, attempting an NBA-record 29 threes in the first half and finishing with a total of 47 attempts. That’s two tries shy of the league record for three-point attempts in a single game.
Said former Bull Chris Duhon: “That’s our game. We’re not going to go away from it. We’re going to keep shooting it. If we’re open, we shoot it.”
Nice philosophy. But that’s not exactly the best way to protect a 17-point cushion. And Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni knows it: “We just took too many in the first half when we should have been more aggressive and drive in to get some fouls.”
The Bulls were fine with New York’s shot selection — 47 treys versus only 39 two-pointers — and the low-percentage shot selection helped Chicago hold the Knicks to 36 percent shooting on the night. Sometimes the best defense is the opposing team’s offense. Which, ironically, is usually the case with the Bulls.
Luol Deng had a terrific game (24 points, 8-for-16, 13 rebounds, 5 assists), as did John Salmons (20 points, 7-for-14, 7 rebounds, 4 assists), Joakim Noah (15 points, 9-for-10 from the line, 9 boards), Derrick Rose (18 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists) and Taj Gibson (12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocked shots). But, frankly, big games should be expected against a team that ranks 23rd in Defensive Efficiency and 28th in Points Allowed.
Of course, nothing is a given with these Bulls. Remember: they scored only 78 points at home against the Raptors, and Toronto ranks dead last in Defensive Efficiency.
Despite the (somewhat) patsy opponent, there were positive signs. The biggest one of which was an actual, beating pulse displayed by Salmons, who scored seven points in the final minute and nailed a huge triple with 47 seconds left to pretty much seal the deal.
Still, I’m not sure how much the team can take from this win. I mean, it’s always nice to pad the stats, but ultimately, I’m not sure this game teaches us much. Other than, you know, the Knicks aren’t very good.
In other news, the Bulls have scored 100 points only twice this season. That’s just something to think about as the team prepares to play the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.