The Knicks were defeated by the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, 92-87.
After getting off to a terrific start and building an 11-point lead, the Knicks faltered in the final three quarters en route to a 92-87 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Add another tough loss to their terrible road record of 2-11, and just like that, the Knicks are back at .500.
Defensively, the Knicks did a decent job throughout the game, but couldn’t get key stops and buckets to fall on the offensive end to push them over the hump. Scoring one point in the final 4:24 of a game is a great way to lose and the Knicks certainly didn’t show up when it mattered most.
Nobody on the Bulls in particular killed the Knicks, as Chicago had four players in double figures. Kris Dunn lead Chicago with 17 points and 5 assists. Kristaps Porzingis lead the Knicks with 23 points, six rebounds, and three blocks in a game where the Knicks were awful from behind the arc (4-23) and not able to get anything going against a Bulls team that is still buried in the standings despite winning nine of their last 11.
Contrary to what Denzel Valentine says, the Bulls are a mediocre team at best and no threat to anyone in the East, so this was yet another game the Knicks should have won, but did not.
Shortcomings on the Road
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the Knicks season so far is the fact that they have perpetually lost to teams on the road that they should crush. Three losses in the past two weeks come to mind (Bulls twice and Hornets) against poor teams. This unfortunate trend is holding the Knicks back from really getting into the mix in a wide-open middle of the Eastern Conference.
There is no one reason as to why the Knicks don’t finish games on the road. The offense averages almost 10 points per game less on the road then at home, and they never seem to get good offensive outputs from multiple guys on a single night. It’s usually either KP or Michael Beasley carrying the load offensively and everyone else dragging behind missing shots and not executing like they should.
New York has a bunch of road games on the schedule coming up, including a seven game West Coast swing thrown in there as well. If they aren’t able to get their act together and begin to play with an increased sense of urgency on the road, they are going to free fall in the standings into the position most expected them to be in all season: the cellar.
Poor Late Game Execution
A frightening pattern I have noticed throughout many Knicks games this season is their inability to get a quality shot in the final seconds of a tight game. Tonight, Enes Kanter got a look from behind the arc with seven seconds left down by only three. Obviously, Kanter is one of the last options on this team in terms of who you would want to take a potential game tying three-pointer. To exactly no one’s surprise, Kanter missed the shot, and the Bulls put the game away with free throws. The failure to get KP the ball, let alone get a quality look at the basket in the waning seconds of the game is not exclusively a road game problem for the Knicks. I’ve seen tremendous amounts of disorganization and confusion on out of bounds plays at the end of games, and that is something Coach Hornacek needs to focus on in film sessions and practice.
I don’t expect the Knicks to pull out every close game and drain every buzzer beater they get, but I do expect them to get a decent look at the hoop. Kristaps is the guy who should be taking those crunch time shots. Better play calling and execution could have resulted in the Knicks possibly winning some of these nail biters they ended up losing and those couple of opportunities they squandered could be the difference between the eighth seed and missing the playoffs. It is extremely important this issue gets resolved because this could make an even bigger difference down the stretch of the season.
The Knicks are back in action tomorrow evening against the San Antonio Spurs in Texas.