Knicks 83 Bulls 78
By Max Marcilla
It certainly wasn’t pretty. It certainly wasn’t easy. But somehow, someway, the Knicks managed to squeak out a win against the Rose/Deng/Butler-less Chicago Bulls.
The Knicks came out strong out of the gate, erupting out to a 9-2 lead ignited by steals by, well, everyone. Defensive specialist Iman Shumpert got a pair of steals, Kenyon Martin was a menace in the paint in his first game back from injury, and the Knicks were off to a great start. The Bulls evened up the first quarter score, and ended the quarter up by a bucket, but the Knicks took over in the second.
In arguably their best stretch of the season, a lineup utilizing Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Kenyon Martin went on a 19-0 run in slightly over 6 minutes, as the Knicks escaped the wrath of Chicago.
The third quarter of doom was not a problem for the Knicks… at least for the first 8-minutes-or-so. Towards the end of the third quarter, something snapped inside the Knicks, as they did a complete 180 to give the Bulls an opportunity to get right back into the game.
Fans sat on the edges of their seats thinking “here we go again,” and the fourth quarter wasn’t much better.
Isolation ball on offense for the Knicks, and bucket after bucket in the paint for Chicago were the reasons the Bulls came all the way back from 16-points down in the fourth quarter to eventually tie the game at 74.
In the final 3:38, after the Bulls evened the score up, the Knicks outscored Chicago 19-4 to win the game. Dreadful offensive sets by Tom Thibodeau Bulls, and some free throws by Woodson’s Knicks propelled the Knicks to the win. However, the game certainly left a sour taste in the mouths of fans, as they saw a team crumble once again. This time, they pulled it out. In the future, against better opponents, I am not sure the Knicks will ever get this lucky.
Despite the ambitious comeback attempt by Chicago, there were a few bright points in tonight’s game.
First, Amar’e Stoudemire is back!
For the first time all year, STAT was participating in back-to-back games, and he thrived in both games. While he still had some typical Stoudemire defensive mishaps, his season-high 9 rebounds and 14 points dwarfed any mistakes the former all-star made.
The other star in New York, Carmelo Anthony, had himself another very impressive game. Melo tallied 30 points, 10 rebounds, and even 4 assists. If Melo can continue passing and moving the ball, he can be even more effective and get other players such as Tim Hardaway Jr. more open shots.
The guard play tonight for New York was suspect yet again, as both Beno Udrih and Pablo Prigioni didn’t bring their A-games with starter Raymond Felton out for what could be a long period of time. Despite their below-average efforts, the defensive intensity Prigioni brought along with Udrih’s shooting touch provided a nice spark to a backcourt that has been dreadful this season, no matter who has gotten the burn.
The other guard that was bad was (I’ll take a deep breath so I don’t go on a 25-page rant) J.R. Smith. Smith has been absolutely horrific this season, as tonight he compiled a nice highlight montage of missed shots, defensive blunders, and a bone-headed foul in the fourth quarter that helped the Bulls turn the quarter. Hopefully, Smith is just struggling with his surgically repaired knee, but if not, his season could go south, very quickly.
The Knicks will head north to Boston with, get this, a 2.5 game differential between them and the Celtics for the Atlantic Division lead. The Knicks will try to avenge a dreadful 41-point home loss suffered this past Sunday.