Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks: Postgame Grades and Analysis
In a battle between two of the Eastern Conference's elite, the Chicago Bulls defeated the New York Knicks by a score of 110-106.
The most dominant four-point win in NBA history.
It was a night in which Carmelo Anthony, Mike Woodson, Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah were all ejected. J.R. Smith joined them by fouling out.
As for the game itself, Luol Deng finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds for Chicago. Their defense smothered the Knicks for 48 minutes and did not allow anyone but Anthony and Smith to get started offensively.
The refs let them play and lost control. The Knicks, however, displayed immaturity in not responding to adversity.
Knicks play-by-play announcer Mike Breen said it best:
"The New York Knicks have to stop arguing these calls. Even though they've had a legitimate beef, there has to come a point where you stop complaining and just play."
Something NYK failed to do.
So how do we grade this debacle?
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Kirk Hinrich, Bulls: A
The Chicago Bulls started out hot, going on a 14-2 run during the first five minutes of the opening quarter. Kirk Hinrich led the way with two early three-pointers and assists on two others baskets.
It appeared as if that injured knee was as good as new.
There was a scare early in the third quarter, as Hinrich connected on a beautiful driving layup. Unfortunately, he also came up with a limp, thus setting off the sirens for any Bulls fans across the world.
One possession later, Hinrich would temper concerns by draining a three-pointer. The former Kansas Jayhawk would hit his fourth three of the evening mere minutes later.
Scoring wasn't the only aspect of Hinrich's game that was dominant.
Hinrich nearly completed a triple-double, putting up 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists on 6-of-8 shooting. What more can you say?
Raymond Felton, Knicks: D+
During the first half, Raymond Felton played the worst two quarters of his New York Knicks career. It was a primary reason the Knicks trailed Chicago by 15 points at halftime.
Felton was 3-of-9 from the floor and 0-of-3 from three-point range. He also committed three turnovers and dished out no assists.
In fact, Felton failed to pick up an assist until the 4:39 mark of the fourth quarter. To say that Felton played a horrendous game would be an understatement.
A late-game push is the only thing that saves Felton from a failing grade. Even if Knicks fans want to sing his praises, his "too little, too late" effort only came because he failed to do anything early on.
Twenty-one points and three assists on 9-of-21 shooting don't tell this story at all.
Four turnovers and no assists until the final minutes of the fourth quarter do.
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Marco Belinelli, Bulls: B
Marco Belinelli had a very quiet 22 points.
Belinelli connected on just five field goals, but he made 11-of-12 free throws. The Italian sharpshooter also grabbed seven rebounds and two steals, thus solidifying his evening as one to remember.
Yet one that we may easily forget.
Belinelli was a name that the announcers mentioned very rarely in New York. He didn't make very many plays, but he sunk his free throws when given the chance.
That's all you can ask of him.
Jason Kidd, Knicks: C
Where was Jason Kidd?
His stat sheet may look pretty, but Kidd was nowhere to be found for three full quarters. He'd grab an occasional rebound and swipe a few steals, but Kidd was a non-factor as a facilitator and irrelevant from a scoring standpoint.
Fortunately, he hit two key three-pointers and saved his grade. You know, when it was all too late.
A disappointing evening from the Knicks' backcourt.
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Luol Deng, Bulls: A-
Outside of an injury scare and some turnovers, Luol Deng could do no wrong.
Deng finished the game with 29 points, 13 rebounds and three three-point field goals. He took on the challenge of playing one-on-one against Carmelo Anthony, which proved to be a brilliant idea.
'Melo shot just 10-of-25 from the floor.
As for Deng, this was his fourth double-double of the season. It was also his second consecutive 20-plus-point outing.
Even if it was controversial, Deng won this battle with Carmelo.
Ronnie Brewer, Knicks: D
Ronnie Brewer played 10 minutes and posted a plus-minus of negative-13. What else can be said about his performance?
No points, one rebound, no assists, no steals and no blocks. He shot 0-of-4 from the floor and missed two wide-open three-pointers.
We're being generous with this "D."
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Carmelo Anthony, Knicks: B-
This was a rough one for Carmelo Anthony.
During the first quarter, Anthony made a handful of key mistakes. After a no-call on his free-throw attempt, 'Melo jogged back on defense, thus allowing Luol Deng to convert a virtually wide-open three-pointer.
Anthony was then called for a technical foul, resulting in a fast four-point swing in the Bulls' favor.
For the half, Anthony shot just 6-of-15 from the floor and tallied one measly rebound. Even as his point total increased during the second half, 'Melo rushed things on offense and played careless defense.
A prime example came around the eight-minute mark as the Knicks picked off an inbound pass, but Carmelo rushed it and didn't even hit the rim.
With nearly seven minutes remaining, Anthony would draw his second technical foul. That left the Knicks without both he and J.R. Smith, their two leading scorers.
Although there were no grounds for the second "T," 'Melo has to know better than to get involved with the referees. No matter how poorly they called this game.
Anthony finished with 29 points, three rebounds and one assist on 10-of-25 shooting from the floor.
Carlos Boozer, Bulls: C+
You have to question your place within the organization when they sub you out for Vladimir Radmanovic during a competitive fourth quarter.
Boozer had a strong game when he played, posting nine points and seven rebounds on 4-of-6 shooting. He also blocked two shots, picked up a steal and dished out two assists in 25 minutes of play.
But again, he was subbed out for Radmanovic.
To be fair, Boozer posted a plus-minus of positive-16.
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Joakim Noah, Bulls: B-
I'll say the same thing twice; there is no getting over how inexcusable it is for Joakim Noah to get ejected.
When Noah was ejected, the Bulls collapsed. It enabled the team to fall victim to the emotion of the game, which it hadn't done through three full quarters.
A risk that nearly lost the game.
With that being said, Noah put up 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. He continues to prove to be the best center in the Eastern Conference and is rapidly developing a skill set that few big men have matched.
Specifically as a passer.
A full-letter-grade subtraction for the ejection.
Tyson Chandler, Knicks: C
No matter how frustrating a game this may have been, there is no excuse for the team leader to get ejected for a shoving match.
That's the only moment of Tyson Chandler's evening worth grading, as his departure displayed just how poorly the Knicks reacted to being outmuscled. Fortunately, his ejection actually fueled a comeback attempt.
Three turnovers, a plus-minus of negative-16 and just one field-goal attempt. Enough said.
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J.R. Smith, Knicks: B+
J.R. Smith is the reason the New York Knicks escaped a blowout, scoring six straight points in the final minute of the first quarter. That includes a three-point play to follow Carmelo Anthony's technical foul and a buzzer-beating three.
Without Smith, the Bulls would've entered the second quarter with a double-digit lead and momentum. Unfortunately, the Bulls outscored NYK by a score of 24-16 in the second quarter and overcame a solid first half from J.R.
Smith would continue to contribute on both ends in the second, but quickly got into foul trouble.
Smith would finish with season highs of 26 points and 10 rebounds. Unfortunately, he fouled out with 7:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.
A dagger in the Knicks' hopes.
Jimmy Butler, Bulls: C-
Jimmy Butler played a season-high 31 minutes. In that time, he shot the ball poorly, made some frustrating mistakes and posted a plus-minus of negative-13.
Butler is the answer for the second unit, but he and the reserves nearly lost this game for Chicago. As if we actually doubted the outcome.
Butler hit just 3-of-10 field goals, but he did come up with two steals. He got away with a late travel and also made mistakes from a positioning standpoint.
Weaker performance than he's capable of.
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New York Knicks: B+
As stars and leaders allowed the referees to dictate their approach to the game, the reserves went out and just played. You know, the only way you can overcome physical defense and questionable calls.
In total, the reserves scored 43 points.
Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni nearly led the Knicks to a shocking comeback victory. Unfortunately, it all came during times of pandemonium when very few were actually paying attention to what was going on in the game.
Not after ejections had been handed out left and right.
Steve Novak's disappearing act drops the grade. Credit the Bulls' defense for that.
Chicago Bulls: D+
A "D+" for the Chicago Bulls' reserves? What?
Every single player on the second unit posted a negative plus-minus mark. Yes, a "D" for the Chicago Bulls' reserves.
They nearly allowed this game to slip away after a dominant performance by the starters. An inexcusable truth for a group of players who found themselves caught up in the emotion of this battle.
As a whole, they combined for 19 points, four assists and three rebounds. Fortunately, the starters carried them to victory.