In what was easily the highest-profile game at the United Center thus far in the NBA season, the Chicago Bulls fell to the New York Knicks 117-104 in an extremely disappointing performance. Though the Bulls were competitive for most of the game—and even took the lead at times—the Knicks simply had more energy, made more shots, and received better coaching down the stretch.
The first quarter surprisingly proved to be very troublesome for the Bulls. The Knicks clearly had a higher energy level than their counterparts, as they managed to pull down twelve rebounds in the first four minutes while going on an 11-0 run fueled by Kristaps Porzingis. It also didn’t help that the Bulls’ starters minus Wade shot 2-13 in the first eight minutes. Elsewhere, while Carmelo Anthony struggled immensely with 3-10 shooting in the first period, Courtney Lee picked up the slack by pouring in ten points without missing a single shot. Other than some spectacularly difficult shot-makes from Wade, it was a very underwhelming quarter for Chicago, whom ended the first down 32-23 to New York.
Wade stemmed the bleeding a bit in the next quarter by knocking in three threes over the first four minutes, but the Knicks continued to scorch the nets on the other end. Fortunately, the Bulls did a much better job of defending the fast break than they did in the first period, as the Knicks did not register a single transition basket for the initial seven minutes of the second. Meanwhile, Nikola Mirotic caught fire off the bench and managed to pour in ten points over the final five minutes to help put the Bulls ahead 57-56 going into halftime.
After the break, the Bulls opened the first four minutes of the second half by snagging five offensive rebounds, but surrendered the lead when Carmelo Anthony finally started to get it going for the Knicks. On top of that, Porzingis reached the 20-point mark midway through the quarter thanks to his ability to keep generating mismatches out of the Bulls’ favor. However, thanks to Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, the Bulls were eventually able to re-tie the game at 75 apiece with three minutes left in the period. Unfortunately, bad defensive rotations and some sheer dumb luck resulted in the Bulls losing the lead again, but after a ridiculous isolation step-back three from Wade in the closing seconds, the Bulls ended the third down only 84-81.
Dwyane Wade step back 3 pointer in Joakim Noah's face. pic.twitter.com/XxMWTFZuQK— ⓂarcusD2.0 (@_MarcusD2_) November 5, 2016
The fourth quarter opened in almost the exact same fashion that the first quarter did. The Bulls did not match the energy the Knicks immediately showcased, and as a result New York went on a 10-0 run over the first three minutes. The Bulls countered with an 8-0 mini-run of their own, but the Knicks just could not seem to do any wrong as they kept the Bulls from ever getting within five points for the remainder of the game. With under two minutes left, a vintage Derrick Rose And-1 followed by a dagger corner three from Anthony sealed the deal for the Knicks. The final score ended up 117-104 in favor of New York.
Neutral fans watching for purely entertainment purposes certainly were not disappointed this evening. Dwyane Wade had his highest scoring affair of the season thus far, pouring in 35 points on twenty shots, including a 5-7 performance from beyond the arc. He also pulled down ten rebounds. Wade has already surpassed his total three point shots made from last season, and he’s shooting 10-19 from distance out of the gate (GUESS WHO SAW THAT COMING?). Jimmy Butler also had a great game, scoring 26 points on fifteen shots. Rajon Rondo played a horrific game on both ends, shooting only 2-10 from the field and scoring zero points in the second and third quarters.
As the Knicks, all of their stars played great. Derrick Rose did not shoot well, but still finished the game with 15 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. Joakim Noah played a classic Noah game by Bulls standards; scoring 16 points, grabbing 9 rebounds, dishing 4 assists, and even recording three steals. Carmelo Anthony rebounded from a terrible first quarter to shoot 6-12 the rest of the way and finished with 25 points. Kristaps Porzingis led the Knicks in scoring with 27 points on only 15 shots.
This is an awful loss, I could care less how early in the season it is. While I’ll take full responsibility for invoking the BaB-jinx, there is no excuse for losing a one-possession game heading into the 4th with both of the team’s star players cooking, and that falls heavily on Fred Hoiberg. The Knicks and Bulls were on completely opposite ends of the rebounding spectrum heading into tonight, yet the Bulls only won the battle on the boards by two. Chicago committed nearly three times as many turnovers as the Knicks while the Bulls hit only three threes in the second half, finishing 8-23 from beyond the arc.
You would have thought the Bulls would come out sharp against the team that just acquired two of its flagship players, but that simply wasn’t the case this evening. Perhaps they were all a bit lethargic from the Cubs parade Friday morning. Regardless, the Bulls will have to snap out of it quickly against the Pacers tomorrow night to avoid a three game skid.