Zach LaVine, Bulls Beat Banged-Up Kevin Knox, Knicks in Double OvertimeNovember 6, 2018
A matchup against the New York Knicks was the perfect remedy for the Chicago Bulls' losing streak.
Zach LaVine scored 41 points as the Bulls (3-8) outlasted the Knicks for a 116-115 double-overtime win in Madison Square Garden on Monday, the team's first victory in the last five games. LaVine scored all eight of his team's points in double overtime, including a go-ahead free throw with 0.2 seconds remaining.
Enes Kanter totaled 23 points and 24 rebounds, but the Knicks still fell to 3-8 on the season. Kevin Knox scored two points in five minutes in his return to the court after dealing with an ankle injury.
Knicks Must Not Rush Kevin Knox Back from Injury
There was genuine excitement in MSG when Knox came into the game in the second quarter.
You would think he was out for over a year and not the seven games he actually missed because of his ankle injury. Still, fans know what type of player he can be and the type of impact he can have on the organization.
He showcased his full skill set on one play in the second quarter, getting a steal before slamming it home:
This was the only highlight on a quiet day, but it was enough to raise expectations even more after he scored a combined 27 points in the first two games of the year.
The problem is Knox was legitimately injured, and even being active in this game was a stretch.
Head coach David Fizdale said Sunday he wanted the rookie to get into five-on-five practice before returning to the court, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Knox was listed as a "maybe" just a few hours before Monday's game while still being evaluated, per Chris Iseman of The Record.
If it's this close of a call, the Knicks should err on the side of caution with the young player.
New York is a long shot to contend for a playoff spot this season with player development being a much bigger priority, especially while starting the youngest lineup in franchise history against the Bulls, according to Elias Sports (h/t Tommy Beer of Rotoworld). While game reps are important, so is keeping key players healthy for the long haul.
The Knicks need to keep Knox off the court until he is 100 percent so he can develop and eventually meet expectations.
It was nice to get him some minutes in front of the home fans before a two-game road trip, but it was an unnecessary risk.
Zach LaVine's Scoring Not Enough to Make Bulls Competitive
The biggest bright spot in the Bulls season so far has been the offensive play of LaVine. The guard entered the day ranked ninth in the NBA with 26.6 points per game and continued the trend with 41 points on 13-of-25 shooting Monday.
His consistency has put him in rare territory:
Unfortunately, he can put up these numbers every single night, and it won't be enough for the Bulls to keep up on the scoreboard against most opponents.
Since Kris Dunn went down with an MCL sprain, the Bulls have lacked a true point guard who can create for others. Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono have tried but only combined for three assists in this game.
As a team, Chicago finished with 15 assists on 43 made field goals.
This has forced the rest of the players to create opportunities on their own, which they haven't been able to do with any consistency. Antonio Blakeney has progressed nicely in his second season, and Wendell Carter Jr. has nearly as much upside as anyone in the rookie class, but there simply isn't enough scoring on this roster as currently assembled.
Jabari Parker and Justin Holiday will have to be much more consistent if this team has any hopes of moving up in the standings.
The defense has also been a problem this season, with LaVine being one of the worst offenders, but the Bulls would be much worse off without him.
The Bulls will stay on the road for a difficult matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. The Knicks will take on the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.