2010-11 Game Preview #4: Bulls vs New York Knicks

[Thanks to 'Another Afflicted Chicago Fan' for today's game preview (sign up!). I will be at the UC tonight, so follow the tweets. -ed.]

You remember 90s Knicks. The players (and coach) we loved to hate [ed. note: Pip agrees]. But the John Starks, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Oakley stars of yesteryear parlayed into the gutsy Gundys of the mid-late 90s.  They were still a relatively imposing force to be reckoned with. However, at about this time, Jabba the Krause handed over the keys of the UC over to Toni Kukoc and the Toni Kukoc 7.

Today, long gone are the days our hearts pounded to the bounce of Doc Rivers’ dribble on MSG's hardcourt stage. Instead, Wilson Chandler chucks it like a woodchuck, Danilo hurls it up like an ill advised college freshman, and Amare pulls down an offensive rebound as often as, well, his teammate Eddy Curry. There's really nothing worse than that on-par truth. 

 The only aspect of the game these Knicks seem to defend is their own stat sheet, and we can safely say their approach is quite the antithesis of Tibbs (err, Thibbs?) Bulls Basketball. That’s not to say we've hit our defensive stride, we have not. But something tell me our coach’s backlashes for poor effort and output differs ever so slightly from D’Antoni’s.

The good? The Bulls officially have a new leader in title and ability, and his name is Derrick Rose. With huge offensive nights the first two games, and the march of dimes initiative he spearheaded against Portland, Rose is loudly proclaiming his dominance by producing and stretching his vocal cords on the court. We have also seen the emergence of a sharpshooting Juggernaught named… Luol Deng? If the law of averages has any say in the matter, Deng will come back down to earth soon. But his rising confidence beyond the three-point line, and, as Stacy mentioned a few (thousand) times Sunday night , his aggressiveness, are encouraging developments for this team.

Korver’s ability to hit the jumper off screens Ray Allen-style was a boon to Derrick Rose’s assist total against the Blazers. For the first time in a game that counts for something, Korver showed his worth down the stretch as he helped keep the pesky Blazers at bay. This is likely proof the proof needed to convince us and his teammates that he is returning to health.

The not so good? The most discouraging aspect of Sunday was the Bulls inability to stay out of foul trouble. On the positive, the problem children were predictably Asik and JJ. Thibbs, contrary to Neil Funky Buttloving’s reasoning, was not taking much of a risk leaving both players  (each with 5 fouls) on the floor at the end of the third quarter. If JJ was the best option for the Bulls at SF, we’d all be more interested in Lance Briggs injury updates than the NBADL Chicago Bulls. Leaving both players out there will provided valuable experience for the semi-newbies, and Scales, Brewer, and Korver served as more than capable subs down the stretch. Interestingly, JJ never fouled out and committed only hard, basket-defending fouls. I might have liked to give the ‘ole “There’s hope for him yet” bandwagon a push had I not seen the “I told you so” blimp in the distance.

New York, for all their faults, has remained competitive in every game they’ve played. This includes an honorable showing at Boston. But that schizophrenic Celtic bunch let even the Cavs pussyfoot to a victory. New York also played a close game with Portland, and beat Toronto in their opener. On the Bizzaro Ledger, D’Antoni ripped Asbestos from the stadium’s ceiling to avoid facing Dwight Howard on Monday. Once the garden is free and clear of cancer salad, the Knicks will resume torturing the second-best basketball fans on the planet. For now, Joakim Noah and Gibson will together snatch-up double-digit offensive rebounds as we run-up the score on the Knicker-Brickers at the UC.   

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