There isn't much more to say about Rose's struggling-to-game-winner night that wasn't already talked about in the recap or Ricky's great column. And it's been said so many times that even after a year-plus absence it doesn't need to be repeated much, but: it is so huge to have a guy like that who can generate a decent look (decent for him, for most that's impossible) against a set defense late in games. Contrast Rose's move to how Melo was forced into deep jumpers and I'll always feel better with Derrick's process in that scenario. Sure, Anthony can hit that shot and overall sentiment may have been about a pretty terrible 4th quarter instead of heroics. But we can talk about what's bad AND get a win basked in Rose-glory, which is pretty ideal!
The bad, for this really good team that can (and will) win a lot of games, is that they still can't shoot. It's damaging to their offense and worse just looks and feels bad to those watching. Mike Dunleavy was brought in to help in this area but had an even worse game than the opener going just 0-2 in under 14 minutes. And the most alarming is that there were 3-point looks passed up by Dunleavy. Bulls Confidential noticed the same hesitation with Jimmy Butler, though if that was happening early it didn't keep him from taking 5 jumpers in the second half. He missed all of them. Luol Deng hit the only three-pointer from the Bulls wing players, but it was his single make out of his 6 outside attempts.
[all shot eye-balling from ESPN.com]
Besides that outside shooting, Deng and Butler had fine nights. Deng started out hot ("hey! Melo is guarding me and not LeBron!) by driving inside and picking up several shots in the paint, and also finished with 6 assists. Butler was the team leader in FTs (5-6) and unleashed a nice post move on a helpless Raymond Felton (he literally jumped out of the way). Deng's defense on Melo especially in the 4th quarter was fantastic, and also from that end Jimmy Butler had 2 steals following that crazy 5-steal effort against Miami. The league leader last season was Chris Paul with 2.4 per game, so if these trends continue...
So there's a way (and a Rose) to get over poor shooting and still win. Hinrich found someone slower than him (Prigioni) and had a couple nice drives inside, and also did this [::lets go of nose:: ok, no more nice Kirk notes]. Carlos Boozer looked good inside and was 4-5 in the first quarter. He only shot 2 more times the rest of the game (was 4-4 on FTs though) and had 3 turnovers. I suppose if there was a game where Boozer should be force-fed it would've been against New York, but Boozer in general isn't someone you force post-up opportunities for, he's best catching on the move and maybe a garbage bucket or two. I'm less concerned about any 'disappearing' by him as encouraged that he's had a strong start to the season. I honestly do not expect much from him.
As alluded to with respect to defending Boozer, the Knicks have an interesting roster, especially right now as they clearly are working through some lineups issues. Bargnani was passable in the second half and drew out Noah defensively which caused some problems, but in the first half he was abysmal with 3 offensive fouls on bad screens and zero points. As our pal 'fundamentalysound' at BullsByTheHorns pointed out, if the Knicks perhaps have 2011 Tyson Chandler back that makes a difference, and he nearly won them that game like he did against the Bucks the night prior. But between Melo, Bargnani, and Stoudemire (who initially was good to see back, then sad that he looked so limited) it's kind of a mess with who to pair with Tyson. Like last year, staying small worked best for them but wasn't done Thursday night until late in the game. They not only spread the floor but Chandler alone was doing work on the offensive glass. It forced Thibs's hand to take out Boozer and put in Hinrich for the final 2 minutes.
- It's game two, so let's start up minutes-watch! Thibs was a bit deterred by foul trouble in the opener, but he was back on Thursday. Deng played 39 and Butler over 41. Given Dunleavy's early struggles and the general reticence to play rookies, this may be the case for at least the opening months. Oh, and Noah must be totally healed and well-conditioned, he played nearly 36 minutes after all. We have seen that Thibs is basically going with 8 guys and a dash of Nazr (and that's all he can provide as Nazr is back to looking like he can't play anymore). No conclusions, here, and keeping certain guys off the floor undoubtedly helped get a W and all. But that concludes minutes-watch. And if you weren't aware, this season we'll get the opportunity to distancetravelled-watch too!