If the Bulls fall short of making the playoffs, perhaps they can point to this game as a reason why.
The Bulls let a sub.500 team that has struggled for weeks, to put a hurt on the Bulls. The New York Knicks are merely playing out the season. Their interim coach, Kurt Rambis, is likely to be replaced at the end of the season. But the Bulls came out and played a strange game that lacked intensity and purpose.
They had a porous defense, at times, feeble, and allowed Knicks’ shooters to create space and then get comfortable. A professional who is comfortable shooting the ball is dangerous, and the Knicks made its shots to the tune of 51.7% from the floor… the Bulls lost a key game at home, 115-107.
The loss pushed the Bulls behind Detroit in the race to grab the 8th and final playoff spot. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis matched his career high with 29 points. He also hauled in 10 rebounds. Perhaps it was the sight of Latvian fans in the seats that spurred him on. Wednesday night he was a wrecking crew. Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points and made a late dagger trey with the shot clock winding down and two Bulls defenders with their arms a flutter to no avail.
Chicago trailed New York by 22 points early in the fourth quarter before the team woke up. Coach Fred Hoiberg spoke about the squad being stuck in mud in its last game. Well, they were again last night, against an opponent that it should have put away. Walt Frazier, the Knicks TV analyst said the Bulls were “lethargic.” A telling statistic is that three Bulls starters did not reach double figures. Pau Gasol only scored 4 points. Jimmy Butler tallied seven, and Mike Dunleavy, Jr. reached seven points. That is not getting it done.
Coach Hoiberg said the team’s medical staff is pleased with Butler’s recovery from his knee injury. Now, he has to get his game straightened out.
“You’ve seen the way I’ve been playing lately. It’s sad,” Butler said. “My teammates won’t say it, my coaches won’t say it.”
The Bulls were valiant in the last 8:00 of the game, but it was too little, too late.
It fell to a prolific shooting night by Nikola Mirotic who hit 9 treys and scored a career high 35 points. It took a strong effort by Derrick Rose who scored 21 points to help keep the Bulls within shouting distance of the Knicks who made 56% of their three-point attempts. Honestly, that doesn’t happen in a Tom Thibodeau coached defense. However, this is a different coach and a different year, and right now, the Bulls are close to the precipice. The Bulls are running out of time and hot hands to save this season.
Chicago plays in New York on Thursday in hopes of getting back on track.