In what was a fairly dreadful game with two young and banged-up rosters that went way too long, Zach LaVine scored a career-high 41 points across 49 minutes in two overtimes. The final two coming at the line on a last second foul to mercifully end this contest as a 116-115 Bulls win, their 3rd of the season and ending a 4-game losing streak.
LaVine capped off a great 2nd overtime after some up-and-down closing moments to end regulation and the first extra period, ultimately having a very nice line shooting the ball (including going 11-14 from the line, and the last miss was intentional) but 8 turnovers. But the Bulls had someone to close, whereas the Knicks leading perimeter player, Tim Hardaway Jr., was a late scratch.
It was a horrible start for both teams that carried for pretty much the entire first half. Both teams were a combined 7/26 from three, and though the Bulls were shooting a better percentage from inside the arc they were losing the rebounding battle big and the free-throw one by a bit. It wasn’t good from either side, though you’d see a couple flurries like another Antonio Blakeney chuck-fest.
Then if I could quickly summarize the 2nd half, it was initially a complete foul-fest. Then a couple nice Wendell Carter things, then a Jabari Parker- Mario Hezonja bust-fight, then some alternating looks against really bad defenses. The Knicks had Enes Kanter and Hezonja defending their frontcourt, Robin Lopez and Trey Burke made extended cameos, it was a real scene.
Down the stretch of the 4th quarter Zach LaVine looked poised to take over. He hit 3 of his patently-difficult-jumpers to get a small cushion, but then missed two jumpers plus a turnover (and another near-turnover that went to a Cam Payne drive which just as well...). One miss led to another example of bad transition defense by the Bulls as Knicks two-way player Allonzo Trier hit a three to tie it. The Knicks had the final attempt in regulation but missed a jumper and a putback follow.
Parker was actually pulled from those final couple defensive possessions, but he was back in for overtime to commit a bad turnover. LaVine and the rest of the group followed suit with awful miscues on the next two possessions. But then the Knicks had three straight turnovers, and then they alternated more TOs within the final 4 seconds of the game. So that was what we saw heading into double overtime.
LaVine started going to the basket more in the 2nd OT, converting on several attempts, just enough to out-pace the Knicks who went to Trier mostly in this second extra period. But with a few seconds of differential on the clock to end it, LaVine missed a fadeaway and Mudiay took it literally baseline-to-baseline past 3 Bulls to tie the game back up.
Thankfully he left enough time for LaVine to drive to the basket again and draw a foul, with .2 seconds left. There would be no 3rd overtime, nor a 5th straight Bulls loss.
LaVine really carried the Bulls offense here, the next leading scorer was Blakeney with 17 who did most of his damage early. For the Knicks, Kanter’s defense was his usual, but he was a statistical monster, with 23 points and 24 rebounds in 41 minutes off the bench. Both teams finished the game under 27% shooting from three, while there were 59 combined free throws.