Recap: Bulls 108, Knicks 101

The Knicks fell to the Bulls by seven, 108-101, in a game that was not nearly as close as the final score indicates. The Knicks fell behind by 21 at halftime and the Knicks could not recover from that. Luol Deng was outstanding, as he scored 33 points on 13-18 shooting. Carmelo Anthony scored the quietest 39 points you will ever see, as 19 of them came in garbage time in the fourth quarter and he only shot 14-32 from the field.

First Quarter:

The Knicks started off just like they did in Indiana last night, as they trailed the Bulls 29-18 at the end of the 1st quarter. The Knicks were equally abysmal at the offensive and defensive ends of the court. The Knicks allowed the Bulls to shoot 55% and were lethargic on defense. On offense, the Knicks shot an egregious 26% on 23 shot attempts. Carmelo Anthony returned from his suspension and looked rusty by shooting 1-8 in the quarter. Jason Kidd was 0-2 and passed up numerous open looks, which was a common theme among Knicks players, as they seemed to lack the confidence necessary to put the ball in the hoop. The Bulls were in the penalty with 6:13 remaining in the quarter, but the Knicks failed to take advantage of this by getting to the rim until the end of the quarter when Anthony got the hoop twice for four points. The Knicks really seem to be missing Raymond Felton in this area, as their penetration and overall floor spacing has suffered. Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton led the Bulls in scoring with nine and eight points respectively.

Second Quarter:

Things only got worse for the Knicks as they were outscored 28-18 in the second quarter and trailed 57-36 at the half. Luol Deng starred for the Bulls, scoring 21 points in the half and held Anthony to 10 points on 4-14 shooting. The Bulls shot 60% from the field in the quarter compared to 33% for the Knicks. New York had little ball movement on offense and the majority of the time it was just ISO Melo or ISO JR, which, unfortunately, wasn’t culminating in anything. Kidd was 0-5 in the half without an assist and a +/- of -20. Melo spend the majority of the time at the 3 this half, which just does not seem like the best thing for this team.

Third Quarter:

Status quo was kept in the 3rd quarter, as the Bulls outscored the Knicks 25-24 to maintain their big lead. J.R. Smith started the quarter for the Knicks, but even that move did nothing, as he went 0-4 for the quarter. Deng continued to torture the Knicks, scoring eight points in the quarter. Anthony made consecutive three-pointers to cut the lead to 16 with 4:21 remaining. However, Hamilton hit a wide open shot as the shot clock expired to put the momentum back in the Bulls’ favor. Despite what seemed like a burst of energy, after a few ugly sequences, the Knicks never got closer than 16 in the quarter again. The Knicks tried a little more pick-and-rolls this quarter, but Pablo Prigioni was not aggressive enough shooting off of them, which allowed the Bulls to gamble and lock down the paint.

Fourth Quarter:

Just like the last time these two teams played, the Knicks made a nice fourth quarter run, but, again, it was way too late. The Knicks scored an incredible 41 points in the quarter, but it was far too little and far too late. Anthony padded his stats very nicely in garbage time with 19 points. The Knicks were down 103-84 with 2:43 left when I started to question why the Knicks still had their starters in coming off of a game last night. Of course the Knicks then proceeded to go on a 17-4 run to cut the lead to 107-101 with 16 seconds remaining. Belinelli hit two free throws on the next possession to put the game away.

Notes:

- This three-game losing streak (the longest of the year) is rock bottom. Hopefully.

- I doubt anybody realized how much this team would miss Raymond Felton. I know I sure didn’t. Sure, Felton was struggling shooting, but his penetration was a huge key to getting the team open looks on the perimeter. Obviously, Jason Kidd cannot get that penetration and Pablo Prigioni can to a degree, but he cannot finish like Felton can. Hurry back, Ray.

- Another aspect of the Felton injury is Kidd not being able to play shooting guard. The ball movement just has not been the same without Kidd at the two. The 2 was perfect for Kidd as he could swing the ball around or spot up for wide open jumpers. He is having to do too much right now at point guard.

- It seems very clear that the Knicks are at their best when Carmelo Anthony plays power forward.

- I would try to play Prigioni and Kidd more together. That way they could go back to the two point guard system they were using with Felton and Melo can play the 4.

- Felton is also a much better pick-and-roll point guard than Kidd or Prigioni. Kidd is no threat to get to the rim off the pick-and-roll and Prigioni is way too hesitant in shooting off of it. Also, the Tyson Chandler alley-oops have been few and far between without Felton.

- As for the defense, nothing much has changed as they put in another embarrassing effort on that end of the floor. Can we put together another defensive effort like in the Spurs game? Please?

- In order for Amare Stoudemire to be a plus player, he needs to score at an elite level to compensate for his lack of defense. It just is not happening right now.

- Way too much ISO Melo and ISO J.R.. Of course a lot of that has to do with the issues I mentioned previously.

- James White should get more minutes. He was a solid 4-7 and it looks like he can hit the open jumper. Also, with his athleticism, he should be a good defensive player.

- Woodson’s rotations are not making a whole lot of sense right now. Not enough continuity with the players, as he is mixing in too many players together.

- No real conclusions can be drawn about the Knicks at this point. Just like we knew they were not as good as they started out as we know they are not as bad as they’re playing right now. This was a bad matchup for the Knicks at a time that they were banged up and were coming off a back-to-back.

- The Knicks get a break in the schedule with New Orleans and Detroit coming up. Hopefully taking care of business against them can get their confidence back up.