Yikes. The Bulls had an opportunity to assert themselves in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a back-to-back against the conference bottom-feeder New York Knicks. After getting played out of the gym in the third quarter yesterday, the Bulls came right back out and got smacked again. The Knicks took an eight point halftime lead and never looked back, winning 106-94.
- The Bulls offered zero resistance defensively on Thursday night. Sasha Vujecic got the Knicks going nice and early with three long distances makes (his only three attempts from deep) in the first eight minutes of the game. The Knicks never looked back, drilling shot after shot to methodically put the Bulls away. The Bulls cut it do 47-45 as the first half dwindled down, but Kristaps Porzingis drained back-to-back threes to end any threat. At the end of the third quarter, Arron Afflalo made a contested pull-up mid-range shot to beat the buzzer. The Bulls just couldn’t get a stop all night.
- The Knicks shot 51.3% overall on 43.3% from deep. While the Bulls forced more turnovers (17-12), Chicago shot just 41.6% and 24% from three. The bench unit that’s found much offensive success lately came up horrifically short. Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, and Doug McDermott combined for just nine points on 2/16 shooting. Mirotic dropped 35 himself the night before (and had eight of those nine points last night).
- Derrick Rose had another superb offensive game, even turning in his first dunk of the season!
- Rose finished with 30 points on 13/23 shooting in 39 minutes. The playing time is excessive, especially given that Rose was questionable with a back injury. Furthermore, the Bulls were never really in striking distance to complete a comeback. Regardless, it was so much fun to watch Derrick fly around the court and show off his athleticism. You should absolutely read Drew Hackman’s analysis of Rose’s season here.
- Cristiano Felicio weirdly played 21 minutes, and I just don’t see the infatuation with the guy. He may well be worthy of an NBA roster spot, but Fred Hoiberg‘s decision to play the undrafted free agent more minutes than Bobby Portis is a head-scratcher. Especially in light of the heavy minutes Rose and Jimmy Butler (a nauseating 39 minutes himself) are continually being forced to play. It sure sounds like Butler needs knee surgery. The Bulls need to stop overlooking the importance of minutes management and health. In a lost season, it’s incredibly destructive.
- After dropping both games with New York, the Bulls are now big underdogs to make the playoffs. They’re 1.5 games back of Detroit with Washington hot on their heels. More importantly, they’ve simply been a bad team for weeks at this point. It appears to be (well past) time to throw in the towel on 2015-16.
- I absolutely adore Kristaps Porzingis‘ skillset/game. He’s 7’3″ with the silky athleticism of a much smaller wing player. Porzingis is unafraid to hoist long distance shots, a ridiculously dangerous weapon because literally no other NBA player can really contest his shot. He’s only hit 33.3% of his triples this year, but European players traditionally take at least a year to adjust to the NBA three. Porzingis’ natural feel for the game, excellent rebounding, and all-around positive nature all lead me to feel confident in saying that he will be a major star. He doesn’t turn 21 until August.
- Coming up: the Bulls head to Orlando on Saturday night. Honestly, who cares though? This team probably doesn’t deserve your attention unless you’re a masochist.