Let me begin by stating that the three point shooting display I witnessed from the New York Knicks last night held me in utter amazement, wonder and awe, mixed with heavy doses of torture and suffering. Perhaps the stars and planets were aligned to cause such a feat. I don't know. There isn't a single team in the entire NBA that could have weathered the storm New York brought to the United Center last night.
Having said that, I also believe that shooting display was a freak of nature and nothing more. In truth, if I were a part of that New York team or one of their fans, I would be breathing a sigh of relief that the Bulls didn't pull out a come-from-behind victory.
As phenomenal as the Knicks' shooting was, the Bulls continued to make runs all the way until the very end, at best coming to within eight points. In the end, it was the lights out shooting by the Knicks that prevailed, but there were many things that the Bulls accomplished.
Derrick Rose continues his trek towards super-stardom by scoring 24 points and adding 14 assists, a career high. He continues to be aggressive, and this was highlighted by a monster two-handed jam which could arguably be the best dunk he's made thus far in the NBA. Wow, it was breathtaking.
Kyle Korver showed that he can be called upon when needed. With the Bulls trailing, Korver was given the green light, and he took advantage of it. He shot 70 percent from the field and hit 4-of-6 from downtown, single-handedly keeping the Bulls within striking distance.
Omer Asik continues to be utilized by Thibs, and the minutes will help Asik improve as the season goes on.
Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah were both exceptional. Each pulled a double-double and combined for 11-of-18 from the field and 23 rebounds. Overall, the Bulls shot nearly 52 percent from the field, over 47 percent from three-point range and out-rebounded the Knicks.
Amare Stoudemire was held to only 5-of-21 from the field, committed eight turnovers and eventually fouled out.
Although Luol didn't have a horrible game with 17 points, he did struggle with turnovers and was unable to get to the line as often as he should. Fortunately, others like Taj and Korver were able to make up the difference. No one is expecting Luol to score 40 points like he did against Portland every night, but he does need to continue driving to the basket and getting to the line as often as possible.
Free throw shooting needs improvement. Period.
C.J. Watson continues to struggle with poor shot selection and has run hot and cold through the first four games this season. Hopefully, C.J. will settle down and run the offense rather than put up an ill-advised shot to make up for the last one he missed.
The Bulls should be very pleased with their performance against the New York Knicks. As already mentioned, the three-point shooting by the Knicks made the difference in the end, but unless the Knicks plan on shooting threes like that every night, they should be thankful they left with a victory.
As long as the Bulls can continue with performances like last night, they will be just fine.
There is no resting for the Bulls. Tonight they travel to Boston to face the defending Eastern Conference champs. This will be an interesting game, and I highly doubt either team will take the other lightly.
As always, the Bulls will need Rose and Deng driving to the basket often and getting to the line for free throws—perhaps more importantly, making those free throws. The Bulls will need to make 46-47 percent from the field or better. The faster the Bulls can establish their game, the better. This also means spreading out the floor—listen up Korver and Bogans. No team wants to try to come from behind against this Boston team, especially on their home floor.