Have to start with mentioning this particular game situation in the 4th Quarter: with the Bulls bench doing a good job keeping things together in the face of a large deficit, Amare Stoudemire forces an ugly shot, and on the next possession turns the ball over. Bulls score off of both opportunities, and the score is 108-99 Knicks with 4:48 to go.
Seemed like the ideal opportunity to get the starters back in. And namely Rose, who was having a fantastic game including a stretch to end the 3rd quarter where it looked like he couldn't be stopped.
Instead, the bench remained, Rose sat the last 9:30, and the Bulls never got closer. Post-game, Thibodeau explained the move as performance-based, and (I'm inferring) not having to do with playing in Boston tomorrow night. That had to be some kind of factor, though I'd say it's a bad one: regardless of any extra minutes these guys played tonight, on a back-to-back they're likely to get waxed in Boston tomorrow. And whether Thibodeau expected it or not, tonight's game did eventually look winnable. Especially given the way Rose looked, and the liklihood that the Knicks would fold.
Though maybe the Knicks wouldn't fold on this night, as I was waiting all game for them to cool off and it never happened. An ungodly 16-24 from three, buoyed by transition layups and capitalizing off of Bulls turnovers. I didn't even see the scheme or effort being that lacking as much as the Knicks simply shooting out of their minds. It wasn't just Gallinari going 4-4 (and hopefully Neil Funk had to watch that, despite not doing the game tonight), but Raymond Felton 4-6, Toney Douglas 5-9, and when Landry Fields hit his only attempt in the 4th quarter, it just looked like their night.
But again, with that scenario just under 5 minutes left, you'd think that Thibodeau should've at least let the starters try. It wasn't the only odd substitution pattern in the evening, as the Knicks were also able to surge in the 2nd when the Bulls put in a full bench lineup, including a heavy dose (literally) of Brian Scalabrine. With apologies to KC Johnson, Scal is a mascot and/or circus freak, and Boozer can't get back quickly enough. Not only not providing anything, the supposed 'heady' player provided another too-late foul and hit his one shot with his toes on the line (again). This was a stint following when the Knicks tried to go small with an Amare (who was bad tonight) and Gallo frontcourt against which the Bulls looked strong.
But rotations and Scal-ness (this Bogans thing could probably stop soon as well) are easy pickings in Thibodeau's early tenure. I actually thought that once again the Bulls offense looked good. In addition to Rose, Taj and Korver had solid nights (forgot to add: Asik still looking like a keeper). And while anytime you give up this many points your defense won't look good, I truly think the Knicks were just 'on' tonight. They're a team used to playing fast, and the Bulls are still learning.
Though I still don't think any minutes allotment tonight makes a difference heading into tomorrow night's game.