The Bulls opened their rematch with the Knicks with one of their worst opening quarters of the season, going 0/7 from three and finishing down 34-17. It got a bit better but not enough as a late push never re-took the lead and the Bulls wound up falling 107-103 to go 1-1 against New York this week.
The Bulls finished the game 6/36 from distance, with even affecting Zach LaVine as he went 0-7. LaVine handled his cold-shooting in stride though, with some aggressive drives inside in the 2nd quarter and ultimately getting to a pretty efficient 24-point night. Lauri Markkanen meanwhile was 0-4 from three and finished with 9 points, ending his breakout game streak at: two.
But despite that shooting the Bulls put together a couple of solid runs in this game powered by the usual bench contributors. Thad Young filled up the box score again, though a paltry (for him, now) 2 assists and 4 rebounds he had a block and 5 steals to supplement 19 points. His 2nd quarter helped the Bulls stay in this game, though the deficit seemed to fluctuate between ten and sixteen for much of it.
Then in the 4th, it was a lineup of other less likely contributors as Patrick Williams, Daniel Gafford, Denzel Valentine, and Tomas Satoransky (more minutes for all as Otto Porter Jr. was out tonight) all had a great stint, being part of a run in the first six minutes that brought the Bulls to within five.
The starters came back in to close things out, but weren’t able to get closer than three. The defense was actually solid, there was a bit more in Julius Randle left (27 points and went 5-7 from three, with the first 3 treys coming in the first quarter) to get a couple buckets. But the Bulls offense was pretty poor in this time, I believe their only baskets were on broken plays or transition, though one was a pretty cool Zach LaVine drive and thunderous dunk. But in a game where the Bulls actually kept the turnovers very low overall (merely 9)
Bulls were 3/10 with 2 turnovers in the final 5 minutes after cutting the lead to 99-96.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) February 4, 2021
, there were a couple very costly miscues and bad shot selection late.
But it wasn’t a late collapse for the Bulls, it was more what brought them to a 18 point deficit in the first place that told more of the story. To get in that hole, the Bulls defense was quite poor, and the Knicks spent their second straight game absolutely trucking Chicago on the glass. Coby White was cooked by Elfrid Payton (19 points), RJ Barrett (17) had his way with Williams, LaVine lost some backdoor cutters, and the Randle+Robinson frontcourt was punishing the Bulls stringbean starters inside with tips and finishes.
In Monday night’s game it was the Knicks were weren’t able to capitalize with three point makes, and though tonight they only took 22 threes, they made half of them. It was the Bulls turn to go cold tonight.