Game Notes: Knicks at Bulls
Knicks shoot the lights out, Derrick Rose dunks, and what was Tom Thibodeau thinking?
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
It’s one thing to have a team beat you. It’s another thing to beat yourself. For the Chicago Bulls who played the New York Knicks last night, it was a little bit of both that gave the team its second loss of the season, spoiling a career high 14 assist night – and a mind blowing dunk – for Derrick Rose.
Tom Thibodeau during his postgame presser had the look of a man who knew that he’d blown it. Perhaps second guessing himself, he barely made eye contact with reporters, looking down the whole time he spoke as he tried to explain away his decision as best he could of not having his starters play in the fourth quarter.
“The second unit was closing a lot harder to the 3-point line. The way their guards were shooting, we needed their energy to [close out] the [3-point] line.”
Sure, the Knicks were shooting lights out, but after being down by as many as 21 points, the Bulls – specifically the second unit – battled back in the fourth quarter and had cut the lead to 9 points with less than five minutes left to play. But instead of putting his starters back in the game and giving them a chance to possibly pull it out, Thibodeau stayed the course and the Knicks came away with a 120-112 victory.
It was a game in which his decision making throughout the course of the night should rightfully be called into question.
From the decision to have Brian Scalabrine guard Amar’e Stoudamire during moments in the first half, to Joakim Noah logging no minutes in the fourth quarter, and playing both Derrick Rose and Luol Deng only 2:29 seconds in the final period.
Given that the Bulls play the Boston Celtics Friday night on the road in their first back-to-back of the season, the decision to not play his starters makes sense in some aspect and with the poor play of his first unit defensively (they gave up 70 points to New York in the first half), it was clear that by sitting them in such a close game that he was trying to send a message.
But you should always coach to win the game.
The second unit did a great job of getting the team back in it and the starters should’ve been given another chance to try and bring the victory home. But it was not to be.
“You definitely want to be out there, but coach was trying to make a point,” said Joakim Noah after the loss. “It’s pretty clear we have to come out with better energy. We can’t let a team score at will. It’s the starters’ responsibility to do a better job defensively.”
The Knicks shot exactly 50 percent from the field and an astounding 67 percent from beyond the three-point line (16 of 24) mostly on the hot shooting of Danilo Gallinari (4 for 4), Raymond Felton (4 for 6), and Toney Douglas (5 for 9) who combined for 54 points and 13 of the 16 three-pointers that the Knicks made. It was an amazing display of shooting accuracy summed up perfectly by Kyle Korver in his postgame comments.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played against a team that shot that well from [the three point line]. Maybe Orlando once or twice, but that’s what [the Knicks] do. I watched them on NBA TV – their little training camp thing – and all they did was shoot threes. That’s what they want to do. That can be a good thing, that can be a bad thing, but that’s their strength and we didn’t take that away from them.”
Perhaps there was a method to Thibodeau’s madness on Thursday night and as disappointed as the Bulls locker room was after the game, maybe a loss like this will fire them up and have them mentally ready for Friday night’s contest against the Celtics.
“The beauty of it is we have a big game [Friday] night,” said Joakim Noah. “We’ll have a chance to redeem ourselves.”
n Carlos Boozer had his hard cast removed this week and was in the locker room before the game with his injured right hand exposed. His pinkie knuckle still looks pretty bad and it’s yet to be determined when he’ll see his first offical action as a member of the Bulls.
n Before the game, Derrick Rose addressed the media flap over his missed taping of an episode of The Good Wife. Said Rose, “The timing was messed up. I had to wake up at 6am to catch an 8am flight to New York after a game (Monday night against the Portland Trailblazers)… I apologize to the people that watch the show, the fans that watch the show, the producers, all the people that work there; I never meant to do it… I’m not the type of guy where I would try and ‘big time’ anyone or anything. It’s not in my character as a person and I’m sorry that I did it.”