Note-A-Bulls: Short-handed Bulls fall to “Rival” New York Knicks 104-89, dropping their 3rd straight game.

Facing familiar faces in Joakim Noah and the now “located” Derrick Rose, the Bulls squared off against the Knicks in 2017’s version of the “Flu Game,” just with a much worse result. The Bulls were without Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Denzel Valentine due to the stomach bug and their lack of depth continued to be on display tonight on national television. The Bulls kept close throughout, but their lack of scoring options proved to be their un-doing, a common theme throughout the season. Facing an uphill battle already, the Bulls went into Madison Square Garden undermanned, and left leaving fans with the same sick feeling that sidelined Butler, Mirotic and Valentine.

  • TNT Announcer Marv Albert referred to the game feeling like a “Preseason Game” due to both team’s injuries, illness, and maybe even the sparse crowd at Madison Square Garden. However, in reality, he may have been referring to the actual product on the court, no matter the injuries or health conditions that was cause for concern for any basketball fan.
  • Because of illness the Bulls gave 2016 2nd round pick Paul Zipser his first start of his NBA career. While he looked fairly comfortable on the floor, his first task as an NBA starter was to guard Carmelo Anthony, not the easiest of assignments.
  • The Knicks first basket of the game was a Joakim Noah dunk, which was fitting against his former team who fired their previous defensive-minded head coach Tom Thibodeau.
  • The story in the game and throughout the week was the play of former Bull and league MVP Derrick Rose. Rose, who was M.I.A a few nights earlier after flying home to Chicago, played well against his former team. Rose looked well-rested and explosive at times. While he is still not the player he was that took the league by storm, a few nice drives to the basket, reminded Bulls fans watching and his new Knicks’ fans what he was and still can potentially be.
  • The Knicks started off the game with an 8-0 run, and that was without the biggest bright spot of New York’s season, the injured Kristaps Porzingis. During this stretch and throughout the game the Knicks employed the rare triple-team defensive scheme, to divert the Bulls offensive plans, coming at a surprise to Hoiberg’s Bulls.
  • Due to a shortened bench, the Bulls offense had many moments of stagnation throughout the game. This lack of offense however is unfortunately common even when the Bulls are at full strength. Knicks guard Justin Holiday came off the bench in the 1st quarter to hit back-to-back threes. The Bulls used Doug McDermott as their off the bench scorer tonight, but he went 0-5 from the floor in 16 minutes. The Bulls desperately need more scoring from their bench, especially when they are down 3 players.
  • Watching Joakim Noah and new Bulls’ center Robin Lopez play in the same game reminds many fans how fortunate it is to now have a presence offensively down low, as well as in the rebounding game, as the Bulls continue to be the best rebounding team in the league, despite losing the battle tonight. While Noah (12 Pts, 15 Reb) beat out Lopez (10 Pts, 7 Reb) on the stat sheet tonight, Lopez continues to make his presence known even if it does not show up statistically after every game.
  • The Bulls had an 8-0 run of their own behind Jerian Grant and had scored 16 points off of turnovers in the 1st half but found themselves still trailing 54-51 at halftime.
  • The 2nd half did not turn out any better for the Bulls. They missed their first 13 shots of the 3rd quarter, and midway through the quarter, Dwyane Wade was 3-6 from the field, while the rest of the team was 0-10, meaning they went 3-19, and ended up only scoring only 16 points in the entire quarter.
  • In reference to the Bulls lack of scoring options, Marv Albert noted that the Bulls are the worst 3pt shooting team in the league, shooting 31% and averaging six 3-pointers a game. How does an NBA team average only six 3-pointers a game? Harping on the lack of scoring options and shot creation is not something I want to write about each recap, but it is constant. In 19 minutes, Bobby Portis scored 2 points, Doug McDermott totaled 2 points and Rajon Rondo finished with 4 points. While Jerian Grant (14 pts) and Christiano Felicio (13 pts) both finished with double-digit scoring nights, it is not enough from the bench. The Bulls cannot be satisfied with this performance, and I will be curious to see what moves they intend to make come February.
  • Continuing with Portis, the fact that Fred Hoiberg started Paul Zipser tonight over Portis, reinforces the idea of the lack of development of another Gar/Pax first round pick.
  • At the 3:49 mark in the 4th quarter, Wade accounted for 14 points, while the rest of the Bulls roster had only scored 8 points.
  • Mindaugas Kuzminskas was all the bench help the Knicks needed, as he scored 19 points, followed by Kyle O’Quinn’s 12 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Carmelo Anthony led the way for the Knicks, scoring 23 points, Derrick Rose finished the night with 17 points.
  • To end the game, Paul Zipser was sent back out on the floor over Doug McDermott. While McDermott’s night was not one of his best, Bulls fans and management would expect 1st round pick McDermott to be out on the floor, trying to bring the team back. Yet the Bulls inability to run plays through him and his cold streaks as of late, are more examples of the regressed development for a player that cost the Bulls 2 first round draft picks and the lesser of the Bulls’ 2015 second round pick.
  • Up Next: the Bulls take on Chicago-native Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday at United Center.
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