As a big man listed at 7'3", Porzingis has a great shooting touch from the outside, at 41.5% from the field. He can shoot over smaller defenders with ease, and that was something Porzingis did when being guarded by Taj Gibson. Despite Taj being one of the best defenders on the Bulls, Porzingis was able to knock down a couple of shots early and get his momentum going for the rest of the game.
Putting Gibson on Porzingis also had trickle down effects as it forced Pau Gasol to guard Robin Lopez. Lopez owned Gasol in the paint and on the glass tonight. Lopez had a double-double of 11 points and 13 boards, with nine of the boards coming on the offensive end. Gibson is a way better rebounder than Pau despite the height difference, so Lopez was able to do whatever he wanted on the glass, taking advantage of the fact that Gasol chooses not to box out or does so poorly.
But when Chicago decided to put Gasol on Porzingis, the rookie just stepped outside to the three-point line and knocked down a couple of shots. It was like pick your poison on the defense for Fred Hoiberg. Porzingis also got the best of Gasol on defense, pulling the chair on the veteran early in the first quarter. The quick start really helped Porzingis as he had 17 points at halftime. He was feeling it, and when finding himself in open spaces and when he got the ball he was making shots with ease.
Once again, another big man with the ability to shoot from the outside and spread the floor killed the Bulls. We saw this against the likes of Al Horford and LaMarcus Aldridge and now you can add Porzingis to that list. He was just a monster tonight and when he gets his shot going, good luck to any defense.
In a season where the Bulls have suffered some bad losses, this is probably the worst.
Fighting for a playoff spot, it was expected that Chicago would come out with some energy and desire knowing that a loss would push them out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. But that's exactly what didn't happen as the Bulls were torched on the defensive end by the New York Knicks, making one of the worst teams in the league look like title contenders. Despite a furious rally by Chicago late, the Bulls fell 115-107, and deservedly so. They were dreadful.
On the other side, Bulls fans got another chance to experience the rookie sensation that is Kristaps Porzingis. The rookie from Latvia has had a pretty solid rookie season and showed why he is the future of the Knicks. Porzingis torched the Bulls as he scored 29 points off 11 of 16 shooting and hit three three-pointers in the process. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and showed why he is a complete matchup nightmare for Chicago.
DID YOU JUST SEE PORZINGIShttps://t.co/L8RHt5n77whttps://t.co/ufd6rb5J0h— SB Nation (@SBNation) March 24, 2016
Two other takeaways
2. A Night to remember for Nikola Mirotic
It seems fitting that on a night where Chicago gets outplayed the entire game that Nikola Mirotic decides to have one of the best games of his career. He absolutely went off in this game, scoring 35 points and hitting nine shots from three, tying a Bulls single game record. He scored a majority of his points in the second half when the game was basically decided and he decided to start shooting whenever caught the ball. But still give credit to Mirotic for having a really good game. 35 points is no small feat and for someone who has struggled shooting the ball like he has, it was good to see Mirotic have a good night on the offensive end.
Nikola Mirotic's 35 points tonight ties Zach LaVine for most by a player in a game off the bench this season. https://t.co/VUCpe2iupA— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 24, 2016
3. The Bulls get crushed on the glass
It was not a fun night for the Bulls on the glass. Chicago lost the rebounding battle 58-37 and it was a big part of the winning formula for the Knicks. Robin Lopez led the way with 13 rebounds as five Knicks had five or more boards. Compare that to Chicago, who had only two players with five or more rebounds tonight (Gasol and Mirotic) and you are going to get killed. Giving up nine offensive rebounds didn't help either.
It all caused Hoiberg to come up with a new word:
"We talked about in the triangle offense making them feel us. We’d do it for a stretch, but we could not sustain the defensive intensity out there," said Hoiberg. "They won the loose ball battle, the rebounds, all the 50/50 balls. They got all of them tonight. They out rebounded us by 19. They just outhorsed us, out toughed us all night long."