Madison Square Garden
6:30 p.m., WGN
Our guys, Bobby Portis, Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine, and Kris Dunn all remain out for extended periods of time.
The Knicks have also had some long-term injuries afflicting their rotation, with Kristaps Porzingis recovering from his ACL tear last season, and Courtney Lee yet to play this year after suffering a neck sprain preseason. But rookie Kevin Knox, who had some highlights for a couple games before missing time with a nasty ankle sprain, may be back tonight.
The Chicago Bulls are trying to win games, they just aren’t very good and they are very injured and Hoiberg is Hoiberging late-game situations so the losses are piling up.
These losses, though at home, were part of an especially brutal schedule stretch. Now the Bulls travel here, but the host Knicks tonight have a 3-7 record and are on the second of a back-to-back themselves.
They lost big last night against the reeling Wizards, and there’s start of typical Knicks-ness with Enes Kanter being peeved he was pulled for the home stretch of that game. With Kanter, 2nd round pick Mitchell Robinson, and Bulls castoff Noah Vonleh (still only 23, but no Bulls fault, they didn’t ‘scout him heavily in the draft’ so they can’t be expected to identify him as a potential keeper) the Knicks play big oftentimes, currently 7th in the league in offensive rebound rate, an area the Bulls have struggled to defend since losing several frontcourt players.
The Knicks are clearly in developmental mode as much as the Bulls, with guys like Robinson and 2-way rookie Allonzo Trier receiving significant minutes. And giving ‘2nd draft’ chances to guys like Mario Hezonja and Emmanuel Mudiay.
So by default, Tim Hardaway Jr. has become their lead scorer, averaging over 23 points per game on nearly 9 three-point attempts, though he had a dismal 2-10 shooting performance for 7 points last night.
So this will be well-matched, anyway. I figure it’ll be which teams threes go in. The Bulls have been competitive lately when theirs converted, as it undoubtedly helped their awful transition defense to force the opponent to take the ball out of the net. Look for incremental development from Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison against the Knicks’s very large front line, LaVine to bounce back after his own rough last game, but little else!
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