BULLet Points: Bulls trounce Knicks with emerging offensive attack

It was all smiles in the Chicago locker room after the Bulls stomped the Knicks 108-81 on New Year’s Day after holding the New York team to a fourth quarter franchise-low eight points. The Bulls put up 31 points in the final period rout to win four out of their last five games, improving to 19-12, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference.

  • It was a revenge game for the Bulls, having recently lost by 16 to this same Knicks team, sparking a controversial Jimmy Butler post-game interview everyone remembers. Some things have changed since then, as the Bulls have found a new gear and a new source of energy and confidence, catalyzed by an open communication model between Hoiberg and the Bulls’ de facto leader.
  • Without Rose and Noah, the Bulls dug deep, creating Bench Mob 2.0, which is not only surviving, but thriving and flourishing. Bobby Portis, Doug McDermott, and Aaron Brooks combined for 36 points on 14/22 from the field – the bench overall combined for +95. Nikola Mirotic assumed the starting role tonight, putting up 17 points on 6/8 dishing out nine assists and adding five rebounds.
  • The hashtag #FreeBobby Portis is losing steam because Bobby has officially been freed – Hoiberg said Portis has earned his spot in the rotation moving forward. In Friday’s game, BP posted his second double-double of his short rookie career (the other was also against the Knicks) with 16 points and 10 rebounds. His energetic rebounding and effective help defense are a site for sore eyes. He provides a stark contrast to Pau Gasol’s style, who thrives in the areas of shot blocking and shot deterring in the paint, but struggles with lateral movement, rebounding, and general help defense.
  • More on Bobby Portis: in his last three games, he’s averaged 14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds on 61.3% shooting in 27.7 minutes. Tonight, he had a team-leading +30 in just under 30 minutes. He’s active on both ends, helps push the ball in transition, and runs the floor harder than his big men counterparts, and can score – he’s a Hoiberg guy. The kid can ball, and it’s really damn exciting.

  • Niko and McDermott combined for 7/10 from beyond the arc, contributing mightily to the fourth quarter domination, and it was great to see the two of them play well on the floor together. Niko drilled a 31-foot, Steph Curry-esque, “no no no / yes yes yes” three ball that felt practically at half court:

  • Butler was his usual productive self with 23 points on 8/18, +17, and had another alley-oop finish from Pau Gasol that seems to happen once a game now. Pau contributed 17 points and eight rebounds, but was just +6 on 5/17 in just under 30 minutes and did not play in the fourth quarter.
  • Quota-Bulls:
    • Jimmy Butler’s first reaction on the floor when seeing Niko load it up from the Bulls’ horns for the 30-footer: “If you look at my face, I said: ‘Oh, s***.'”
    • Hoiberg: “Niko great job; had steals being in the right spot,shooting that 1/2 court shot with 10 seconds on the shot clock. That was great.”
    • Portis: “Have to earn my stripes; that’s something I like about the Bulls. They just don’t put rookies out there. make you earn your keep.”
  • There wasn’t much to say about the Knicks tonight, other than this summed up their night:

  • Coming up: the Bulls visit Toronto on Sunday afternoon.
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