What a sad day this is.
Fresh off of a booty-blasting from the Knicks last night at the United Center that ended in a 115-107 defeat, the Chicago Bulls hopped on a plane to New York City tonight to take on the Knicks once again, and results were essentially the same. Inconsistent offense and a total lack of defensive effort on the perimeter doomed the Bulls to their second loss in as many days. Mike From Illinois' homework tonight is to find out when the last time was that the Bulls lost to the same sub-.500 team twice in two days. In fact, I would be surprised if it has ever happened to any NBA team at all.
One thing I can assure you, however, is that there is no way in hell Tom Thibodeau would have allowed this to happen on back to back nights to the same team. GarPax wanted a new era of Bulls basketball when they kicked Thibs to the curb and brought on Fred Hoiberg, but I'm sure this isn't what they had in mind.
Now, I don't have the benefit of local TV coverage, so I had to watch the game on League Pass and they didn't have a stream operating until six minutes into the first quarter. Two minutes was all I needed to see that the Bulls rectified none of their mistakes from last night, as the Knicks had 25 points before the 8-minute mark passed. Fred Hoiberg called a timeout after Sasha Vujacic canned yet another open corner 3, and all GarPax's prized poodle could do was stare down at his feet. The Bulls were able to stem the bleeding a bit by only allowing six points for the remainder of the quarter, but the still ended the first down by four (and it would have been six, had Aaron Brooks not gotten a buzzer-beater cheese floater at the end).
The second quarter began with a Brooks/Holiday/McDermott/Mirotic/Portis lineup that gave up five points and scored none in the first three minutes. Bobby Portis had a nice showing of effort at the beginning when he attempted to tip in a missed layup by Holiday four times before being fouled. That was the only positive. Derrick Rose checked into the game with a little over nine minutes remaining and promptly airballed a three. It wasn't until close to 8:30 remaining in the first quarter when Mirotic scored the Bulls' first points of the period on a put-back dunk. That dunk came off of the fifth straight three the Bulls managed to brick in the first three and a half minutes of the second quarter alone.
And then, just before the halfway mark, it happened. For the first time this season, Derrick Rose finally dunked the ball.
It wasn't a great slam--more of one of those two-handed rim-grazers that Carmelo Anthony does so often--but it's nevertheless a welcome sight to see. He had a lane to the basket so massive it looked as if Moses himself had parted it for him, and therefore probably could have done more with the dunk itself, but what am I saying? Rose freaking dunked! Be happy!
Despite some solid offensive play from Derrick Rose for most of the second quarter, the Bulls' defense just continued to disappoint. The team could have been down by only two at the break were it not for Kristaps Porzingis nailing two wide open threes, both of which occurred because Bobby Portis (same as last night) failed to close out the 7'3" stretch four on the perimeter. The Bulls went into the break down 53-45.
The Bulls opened the half by once again failing to register any points in the first three minutes of play, and no players not named Derrick Rose scored any points for the first five minutes. The Bulls only had seven points in the quarter midway through the third. Meanwhile, the Knicks kept clicking right along, generating open looks and eclipsing seventy points just after the three minute mark. Niko had a beautiful dish to Cristiano Felicio under the basket for a slam, but that was about the only redeeming thing that happened towards the end of the period as the Bulls ended the quarter down 80-65.
The fourth quarter got off to a nice start offensively thanks to Justin Holiday, who had seven points and assisted on a Mirotic layup in the first three minutes. It didn't matter, however, as the Knicks had already gotten to 85 points and kept the lead at double digits for the rest of the way. Jimmy Butler had a spry alley-oop finish some minutes later and that was about all the positive stuff that happened for the Bulls down the stretch. Chicago won the fourth quarter by three points, but it was the only quarter of the night they won, as the game mercifully ended with a final score of 106-94.
Five players scored in double figures for the Knicks, including Anthony who had 26 and Porzingis who once again torched the Bulls for 19 points. The Bulls by comparison only had three in double figures. Though Derrick Rose did have 30 points on 56% shooting, all five of the starters finished with negative +/- ratings, including Cristiano Felicio who finished with a resounding -16 in his second career start.
This is an unacceptable loss for any team that wants to compete to the playoffs. I could have stomached taking one loss in these two games; NBA back-to-backs are pretty grueling, after all. But two losses down the stretch to the same non-playoff team in the span of two days is unfathomable for a team that called itself a contender at the beginning of the season. Fred Hoiberg is finding creative ways for the Bulls to disappoint us.
We don't need no playoffs, let the motherf#cker(s) burn.