Tag Archives: New York Knicks

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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Note-A-Bulls: Wade and Co. drop second straight to Rose and Noah in return to the UC

Tonight the home team Chicago Bulls lost to the New York Knicks 117 -104. It was the return of former Bull stars Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose to the United Center, and they did not disappoint.

Derrick Rose showed flashes of his old self, scoring 15, with an incredibly high 11 assists and 7 rebounds. He kept the turnovers down for the most part as well, only committing 3 turnovers. Noah also had 16 points and 9 rebounds.

But the real story of the night was the faceoff between Knick’s bigman Kristaps Porzingis and the Bull’s Dwyane Wade. Porzingis, someone who new Knick’s coach Jeff Hornacek has been clamoring his team to give the ball to, had 27 points and 5 rebounds. He hit four 3s, and was 10 for 15 overall.

On the other hand, Dwyane Wade has this newly found skill in his game. It’s called the 3 point shot. Fans and analysts alike came into this year complaining that the Bulls had no spacing to be found in their starting 5. Coming into the game, Wade had been 5/12 from 3, giving him a percentage north of 40 on the season. Very surprising for a guy with a career 28.6 percentage from 3 point land.

Well the Bulls have found their spacing, and his name is Dwyane Wade. Tonight he scored 35 points along with 10 rebounds, as Chicago seemed to out rebound New York all night. Wade was 5 for 7 from 3, bringing his yearly totals from deep to 10 out of 19, nearly completing 50 percent of his shots from 3 point land.

Even though playing much better transition defense than the Knicks, the Bulls were not able to carry over a 2nd quarter run, as the Knicks outscored the Bulls by 14 in the second half.

Each member of the Knick’s starting 5 had at least 15 points. (The bench only scored 17.) Shooting 52 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3, everything was going down for New York.

The Bulls shot 44 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3, a poor showing against such a poor defensive team. Butler had 26 points, hitting 11 for 11 from the line. Mirotic had a strong second quarter where he had 10, but ended up scoring only 14 for the night off the bench.

Chicago out-rebounded New York 42 to 29 – the combination of Gibson, Lopez, Mirotic, and tonight even Wade, gives the Bull’s a fundamental advantage over teams that have low shooting performances. (Which tonight the Knicks unfortunately did not.)

NOTES –

  • Derrick Rose flashed some of his talents of old. This finish right here is something pulled straight out of his MVP season.

  • Also, his 3 turnovers were the result of him driving and doing that insanely stupid jump pass. It looks cool in highlights. It helped him rack up 11 assists against a poor defensive team on the perimeter. But at some point, he’s going to have a game in which he shoots 4/15, has 5 turnovers from that jump pass alone, and he gets pulled in favor of Brandon Jennings.
  • This is random – Kyle O’Quinn off the bench in the high post was very intriguing – a few times he was able to hit a 16 footer with ease. With that Knick’s second unit (or really the lack thereof) I expect that to be a bright spot going forward.
  • Carmelo Anthony. Oh joy. Carmelo Anthony is one of the league’s best and most talented isolation scorers. Tonight he showed that off, scoring 25 on 9 of 22 shooting. However, when watching this Knicks team, his play almost seems detrimental at times. Hornacek was brought in to New York to speed up the offense. Run the fastbreak. If a suddenly enlightened Carmelo decided he would push the ball, run the floor, and play defense, he’d get better and more open shots. It would make the Knicks a million times better. Will that happen? No. But it’s what will hold the Knicks back when push comes to shove come playoff time.
  • Kristaps Porzingis needs the ball more. He needs to be taking more than 15 shots a game. His ability to stretch the floor, play big against guards in transition, make him a monster offensive threat. Some of his playmaking and decision making skills need refined. But Hornacek loves him for a reason. He will be the pulse for that team.
  • Doug McDermott has really developed into an efficient offensive player. He can put the ball on the floor with multiple ways to get to the basket, as well as displaying his deadly 3. Even though he won’t be able to start because of his defensive inefficiencies, he will be one of the league’s best scorers off the bench. Count on it.
  • Nikola Mirotic is another guy exactly like McDermott – his ability to stretch the floor and drive to the hoop make him very valuable, starter potential at some point. However, his lack of quickness on the perimeter make him a small 4. He’s able to rebound very well, however, so at some point don’t be surprised if Hoiberg often runs a small lineup with Gibson and Mirtoic as the two bigs.
  • Christiano Felecio is the definition of a dark horse player. His ability to be the primary ball handler on top, a la Joakim Noah, as well as play excellent defense down low and on the perimeter, will get him valuable minutes with the second team, and he showed that tonight as well.
  • Up Next: The Chicago Bulls play at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Indiana Pacers Saturday the 5th 6:00 PM Central Time.

 

 

Bulls make out well in shocking, emotional Derrick Rose trade

In a move that caught just about everyone by surprise, the Bulls traded Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks Wednesday afternoon. The move signifies the end of an era that will be remembered by all with mixed emotions ranging from the highest of highs to the lowest depths that exist in basketball fandom. Derrick Rose was never just a basketball player here in his home town. Rose’s first few years were the first time this city dumped it’s hopes and dreams into a Bull since the departure of Michael Jordan. And how could you not when he was doing this and this.  Rose captured our hearts with his humble demeanor and our excitement with his physics-defying drives to the hoop.

Rose tore his ACL in the first round of the playoffs in 2012 while leading the deepest team he would ever play for in Chicago and was simply never the same. Two additional knee injuries robbed Rose of nearly three entire years in his prime. Rose’s 66 games played this year were an incredible accomplishment to those of us who wondered if he would ever string together a few healthy months again. While it was encouraging to finally see his ability to withstand the rigors of the NBA, it was clear that the Rose who treated gravity like an optional feature would never return. And so, with one year and $21 million left on his contract, the Chicago Bulls have decided to turn the page.

While the idea of Derrick in Knickerbocker garb is sickening to many Bulls fans, the front office should be commended for haul they brought back in return for the former MVP. Here’s the full trade:

New York Receives;

Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 second round pick

Chicago Receives:

Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant

The big prize for Chicago is veteran center Robin Lopez, who will be entering year two of a four year, $54 million contract next season. Lopez’s brother Brook garners more attention around the league than Robin because of his smooth post moves and reliable mid range jump shot. But where Robin is lacking on offense compared to his brother, he more than makes up for on the other end.

Robin is one of the more underrated defenders in the NBA. He’s not going to erase your shot like DeAndre Jordan or Hassan Whiteside. He’s not going to blitz and trap the pick and roll like Serge Ibaka or Draymond Green. What he will do is put himself in the best position to wall off the basket and help his team win every possession. According to NBA.com, Robin defended the eighth-most shots at the rim of any NBA player. Racking up contests at the rim is often more an indicator of scheme than skill, especially when you consider that Brook Lopez and Pau Gasol rank in the top four in this category. While Robin’s limited athleticism force him to play exclusively in the conservative, drop back style, he was one of the absolute best at it.  Of the ten players who defended over 600 field goal attempts at the rim, nobody forced shooters into a lower field goal percentage than Robin Lopez.

What Lopez lacks in athleticism he makes up for with positioning and intelligence. Lopez is someone who can always be counted on to be in the right places and help cover for his teammates. The Bulls perimeter is not going to be much better next season if Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic play big minutes. But with a steady presence in the paint, their mistakes will be far less glaring.

Judging just by a box score, Lopez appears to be a very poor rebounder for a center, averaging just 7.3 per game. Piling up high rebound totals is often an indication of excellent leaping ability, a trait Lopez has never possessed. While Lopez is never going to lead the league in raw rebounds collected, he is still able to make important impacts on the glass. Lopez is an expert at boxing out and creating opportunities for his teammates to grab loose balls. The Knicks were an overall average rebounding team in 2015. But when Lopez, who averaged 27 minutes a game, was on the court, the Knicks rebounded at a top five rate in the league.

Lopez is not and has never been interested in being the focal point of an offense. In his eight years in the league, Robin has only finished one season with a usage rate around 20%. Instead, Robin scores many of his baskets by creating space with his body and tipping misses into the hoop. Lopez rebounded 13% of his teams own misses this past season, the 13th highest rate in the NBA. Lopez is a below average finisher at the rim, shooting 61% between zero and three feet, but he at least consistently puts himself in the position to attempt those makeable shots.

Acquiring Robin Lopez heading into this bonkers free agency period when there are no other starting caliber centers on the roster (sorry Cristiano Felicio) is a huge weight off the Bulls’ shoulders. Lopez is going to make $13.5 million per year over the next three years, which sounds like a steep price for a guy who has never averaged more than 11 points a game. But when you compare his contract to the ones likely to be given to Bismack Biyombo, Ian Mahimi and Festus Ezili, Lopez, who is just 28, will become an overnight bargain. While the trade did not create any cap space for the Bulls in 2016, they essentially filled their greatest hole without having to dip into their roughly $25 million of space.

Jerian Grant had a rough rookie season, but there is reason to hope he can develop into a solid NBA point guard. After four years of running spread pick and roll at Notre Dame, Grant went missing in the Philmuda Triangle. Grant never grasped the offense in New York and was never given a great opportunity to learn on the job, averaging 16.6 minutes per game behind long time veteran Jose Calderon.

That Jerian was never able to earn more minutes was a moderate indictment on Grant’s ability to do anything on offense. Grant shot a miserable 22% from three and a discouraging 52% within three feet. Some of that struggle could be attributed to him getting the ball in unfamiliar spots and being asked to do unfamiliar things. Still, a lack of true NBA athleticism may prevent Grant from becoming a quality guard. Grant will find himself in a familiar system under Fred Hoiberg, and if he has any chance to succeed the Bulls will have three cost-controlled years to find out.

Jose Calderon is a great shooter, averaging over 40% from three in each of the last four seasons. Unfortunately, shooting is pretty much all the 34-year-old point guard can do at an NBA level anymore. Calderon has seen his assist rate plummet since his peak days in Toronto as his athleticism has declined. Calderon was never a great athlete, but his threat of shooting used to be enough for him to create penetration and set up his teammates. Time has robbed Calderon of what little speed he ever had, limiting his ability to facilitate an offense. Calderon is also a turnstile on defense. The Knicks held opponents to three fewer points per 100 possessions when Jose was on the court versus when he was off.

The trade also allows the Bulls to sharpen their focus as the draft and free agency approach.  With the center position firmly covered between Lopez and Felicio, the Bulls can focus their attention on adding a point guard and deepening the wing rotation. This is not a draft or free agency class deep at either of those positions, but if the Bulls can snag Wade Baldin at 14 and throw a big contract at Kent Bazemore or someone in his ilk, they will be right back in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.

A quality center on a value contract, a mildly intriguing prospect and a veteran shooter are a pretty good haul in return for an injury-riddled Rose who could leave in free agency in July 2017. Jake Weiner and I had been discussing whether the Bulls should trade Rose or Butler this offseason and I had been mostly against trading Rose, simply because I thought we could get nothing back for him better than cap space. By those low expectations, the Bulls made out like bandits in this trade.

 

BULLet Points: Pack it up, the Bulls’ season is over

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.

BULLet Points: Bulls drop critical home game against Knicks

A 115-107 loss to the Knicks at the United Center on Wednesday moved the Bulls to 36-34, and a game behind the Pistons, who currently hold the last playoff spot. With just a few weeks of the regular season remaining, the Bulls badly need to capitalize on a chance to at least sneak into the playoffs, though it could be argued that they are not sitting in an advantageous spot no matter what happens in these next few weeks, and maybe missing the playoffs is better for them in the long run. Let’s take a look at how last night’s game played out, and what ultimately led to the loss:

  • I don’t know that this is a trend per se, but the third quarter was the dagger in this game. This is something that has popped up more than once for the Bulls, and was ultimately too much to overcome last night. They shot poorly, scoring just 18 points and getting killed in the paint. In the third quarter alone, they missed eight scoring opportunities just in the paint, while allowing the Knicks to go 5/7 from three point range. New York ended up scoring nearly twice as many points, and it would be too wide of a gap for the Bulls to narrow in the fourth, even though they outscored the Knicks 34-23.
  • In general, the Knicks had a quality shooting night, going nearly 52% from the field, but it was their 56% three point shooting that helped seal this one for them. After the game, Carmelo Anthony gave us a tease of what could have been if he came to Chicago, and he was mentioned as a possible member of a one day “super team” that is the mastermind of LeBron James. Keep an eye out for The Decision: Part 3 sometime soon. Nick Friedell had this from Anthony after the game:
  •  I hadn’t seen much of Kristaps Porzingis firsthand, so even as he was killing my team, it was fun to appreciate his 29 point, 10 rebound performance.
  • The Bulls were essentially at full strength last night, with their regular lineup and prolific scoring from Nikola Mirotic, who led the team with 35 points and grabbed 6 rebounds along the way. Derrick Rose turned in a nice 21 points and four assists. Rose has quietly put together a fairly respectable season this year.
  • I was impressed at the way that Jimmy Butler found a way to contribute, even as he wasn’t shooting well, going 3/11 from the field last night and scoring just seven points. He still managed a team leading eight assists and grabbed three rebounds. Butler didn’t commit a turnover, either. On a night when his shooting is better, he’d have been the star of the game. Butler, of course, doesn’t feel the same, and hasn’t been satisfied lately with his own performance:
  •  I’m perhaps a bit too forgiving of what he’s done lately, but I think there’s been value in how he’s done on the court, even without the scoring that we are used to.
  • In general, I wonder about fatigue and the quality of defense with this team. The deep roster that used to be a Bulls cornerstone isn’t there anymore, and with injuries to key players that keep popping up, it looks at times as though they are just gassed. It’s hard to find the same motivation as the beginning of the season, I’m sure, and the waning weeks of this year might just be a labor of love at this point. With just 12 regular season games left, their sights have to be set on where the team goes from here. That said, giving up over 100 points on even a somewhat regular basis is not something we’ve been used to seeing from this team for a while.
  • In an effort to find a positive in last night’s game, the Bulls did not give up a turnover in the first half, and ended up with just six for the night. Somehow, they were still down by two points at halftime. They staged that fourth quarter comeback, but it wasn’t enough.
  • Coming up: the Bulls actually head to New York for a rematch with the Knicks tonight.