Another game without Derrick Rose, though his teammates continue to prove they're sort of used to it by now. It had some real ugly stretches, but it was indicative of the Bulls season: dominating the glass, locking down the opponent, and hoping enough people step up to maintain a lead.
Going against the Knicks small-ball lineups, some matchup problems presented themselves (mostly Boozer-related), but as a team they crushed in rebounding, finishing with a 39% OReb% and holding the Knicks to a paltry 13% in that same category.
The defense had its lapses, especially early, but the second quarter saw the Knicks stuck at 3 points for the first eight minutes and finished with 10, more than compensating for the fact that the John Lucas III experience saw more bad than good tonight. If the other team can't score, it doesn't really matter.
And the individual performances were varied and plentiful, here in somewhat chronological order:
- Luol Deng with a nice shooting night (3-6 from three) and getting the bulk of Carmelo duty holding him under 43 points.
- Jimmy Butler picking up the 'Melo duty for 12 minutes and doing a fine job himself like he had in previous Knicks matchups.
- Omer Asik with a great 2nd quarter stint, though the box score didn't show much outside of a huge block on Tyson Chandler leading to a Korver 3.
- CJ Watson playing most of the second half where the Bulls only had 3 turnovers. Watson himself had only one with 7 assists.
- Rip Hamilton having his best game as a Bull, 18 of his 20 points coming in the 3rd quarter. It was fantastic to see him step up as a go-to offensive option as he did his usual great passing off of curls (5 assists) but also was aggressive and successful with his shotmaking, even getting to the line 7 times.
- Kyle Korver improbably finishing off the game with a great 4th quarter: 11 points, 2 assists (leading to a dunk+layup), and 2 blocks. He must've figured if the Knicks could get away with swiping at the ball so much it was tailor-made for his defensive 'game', and had a great stint to close this out.
Even after Rip's great third quarter, he didn't return. I'm guessing in this case it was because of Korver and the lineup out there was doing so well. Not that he's on the Bogans plan still as further indictment of his fragility. In fact, let's just assume that's the case so we feel better. Derrick Rose's injury-plagued season continues to overshadow everything, but Rip, Korver, and everyone else have given plenty of moments to temporarily forget about it, and tonight was no different.
And after a Miami loss on the same night, the Bulls are now three games up heading into their showdown Thursday at the United Center.