A win is a win, I guess.
The New York Knicks managed to do just enough to get the win over the Chicago Bulls, but their performance was hardly impressive or particularly encouraging, especially considering the Bulls’ current health issues with Luol Deng not suiting up for the game, not to mention Derrick Rose’s injury.
The Knicks actually managed to take advantage of the Bulls’ struggling offense in the early going, holding them to a paltry 32 first-half points. New York was a lot more aggressive in defending pick-and-rolls, and guards like Pablo Prigioni fighting over screens was a welcome sight.
They also looked to trap ball handlers coming off screens at times, but the lack of discipline in their rotations occasionally led to open shooters. Mike Dunleavy managed to have a hot start for Chicago, but nobody else really got anything going at all and the Knicks built a big lead in the second.
Amar’e Stoudemire, playing on the second game of a back-to-back for the first time this year, had one of his best games of the season, playing with confidence on both ends of the floor. He made a handful of useful defensive plays in the second to spark New York’s fast breaks and led the team on a 10-0 run early in the second along with Beno Udrih.
The Bulls were mostly unable to contain him on the block and he canned several mid-range jumpers on his way to a 7-of-11 shooting night, along with nine rebounds and two steals. His early-season claim that he needed more minutes to play well seemed dubious at first, but the removal of his minutes restriction seems to be paying off for him right now.
Unfortunately, the crisp ball movement that the Knicks displayed in the second vanished in the second half as they allowed the Bulls to slowly crawl their way back into the game. For the second game in a row, Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani provided next to nothing offensively and the Knicks fell into a stretch of complete stagnation as they hunted one-on-one shots rather than assisted baskets.
Rather than getting Carmelo Anthony the ball on the move, they opted to stand around and watch him post up for entire possessions. The fourth quarter, in which the Knicks mustered just 15 points, was even worse. A series of embarrassing turnovers allowed the Bulls to actually tie the game up. Those turnovers let the Bulls get out in transition, where the Knicks have been awful defensively all year.
In the end, it only took a couple of made shots to put the Bulls away. Their offense, in its current state, was simply too anemic to complete the comeback and pull out the victory. New York didn’t play a great game of basketball and very nearly gave this one away, but it’s hard to complain too much about another much-needed victory.