Bulls 104, Knicks 99
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 39 MIN | 8-21 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 21 PTS | -3
Dude honestly thought that the reason D’Antoni had him stapled to the folding chair late in yesterday’s Philly beat-down was to “save him for tomorrow.” When you’re star player is this clueless, things like “getting beat to a loose ball by Kyle Korver” or “jacking up a completely unnecessary three when you’re only down five” probably aren’t going to register on the self-awareness scale. And when you get pushed around by a guy who’d made all of 18 field goals on the season thus far, well, you’ve probably had a 40-foot likeness of your face plastered above Madison Square Garden.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 34 MIN | 7-12 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | -10
When I was a junior in high school, our coach was going over a scouting report in the final practice before a key conference game. When it came to my assignment, he said, “you have Geoff, but don’t worry, he can’t do anything.” This is funny for three reasons: First, I was not a good defender; second, dude was so dumb he pronounced Geoff “Gee-off”; and three, I’m certain this is precisely how D’Antoni and Thibadeau described Amar’e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer’s respective assignments before the game.
It certainly doesn’t help that Amar’e Stoudemire rebounds worse than Jennifer Anniston. He made some nice shots and founding something resembling an offensive rhythm for the first time in eons. But that’s just not enough to take away from his utter lack of hustle and heart on the glass and when the ball was on the floor.
|Tyson Chandler, C 39 MIN | 5-7 FG | 3-8 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +1
If you’re Derrick Rose, seeing Tyson Chandler roaming the paint probably won’t stop you from attacking. But it sure as hell’s going to make you think a few dozen times. That is, of course, until you realize you’re Derrick Rose, and you probably shouldn’t be devoting too much time to thinking about anything beyond making your opponents feel like hot garbage sandwiches.
This game was the perfect example of how even Chandler has his realm-protecting limits. With certified sieves in Stat and Melo sending guys down the lane like a Canadian customs agent, there’s only so many times we can expect Chandler to defend three people. He hit that limit tonight.
|Landry Fields, G 28 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -5
I’ve begun to realize that I get so giddy watching Fields slice and dice his way through the opposition – finishing strong, kicking out with confidence – that I tend to completely ignore his often criminal defensive lapses. Tonight it was Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer who snaked their way to open looks Fields had no business giving them. Fields has proven to be an effective option early — playing off the seams and utilizing his deceptively quick first — but tends to totally fade thereafter. And his three point attempt that would’ve brought the Knicks to within two? Coffee and Cigarettes had more of an arc.
|Jeremy Lin, PG 33 MIN | 4-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 15 PTS | -4
Another night, another All-World point guard. To his credit, Lin didn’t merely accept the challenge of checking reigning MVP Derrick Rose, he relished it, albeit more in spirit than in actual game. Rose absolutely eviscerated Lin and the Knicks in the second half, despite a robust 27 shots. Lin had his courageous forrays into the paint, but was stymied more often than not. Reading the Stat line over and over again, I can’t help but wonder whether this will become the new mean.
|Baron Davis, PG 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 7 PTS | -1
Watching Baron Davis guard Derrick Rose, I now know what it’s like to watch an animal eat its young. I could’ve sworn Davis missed at least two dozen shots, but really that was the least of my concerns. Davis just hasn’t looked that decisive with the ball the last two games, particularly with Lin his back court wing man. It seems to me at least that Davis might be be better served bringing in earlier, but leaving out there with a consistent group of guys. Then again, what the hell do I know? I just ate three slices of pie.
|Steve Novak, SF 14 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +5
A few sparks, but no fireworks for our one man cannonade. Watching him guard Taj Gibson was terrifying. Watching him guard Derrick Rose made me laugh so hard my nose started bleeding. Then again, he did end up with one more rebound than Amar’e Stoudemire, who is as bad at rebounding as I am at benchpressing cruise ships.
As a side note: He can expect my lawyer between the hours of 3:00 and 3:03 tomorrow afternoon, when I serve him with papers detailing how he stole my baseline turnaround move.
|J.R. Smith, SG 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2
I should get this out of the way first: The fact that J.R. Smith was fined for photographing a genuine piece of human art, while Chris Kaman gets away with literally holding up a dead animal to try and intimidate a professional basketball team, says everything you need to know about the league’s moral framework.
That aside, can we please let J.R. Smith have as many women on the road as he wants? I don’t wanna have to count on anyone going through any kind of withdrawal to play a large role on my team — least of all booty withdrawal. Give the man his fix. If there’s one dude you let do and say whatever he wants in order to get the most out of him, it’s J.R. Smith. Otherwise, J.R. Smith commits the two worst turnovers of the entire game.
|Iman Shumpert, G 17 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | 0
Despite a few early jitters playing in front of his hometown crowd, Shump had some nice moments. But even he of the banshee D couldn’t stay in front of Rose enough to keep him out of the lane. For the foreseeable future, Chi-Town belongs — by both birth and profession — to the man without the 2 before the 1.
|Josh Harrellson, F 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -6
The only thing more outside of Jorts’ comfort zone than playing in this game would’ve been attending a week-long conference for transgendered clowns.
Five Things We Saw
- Look at it this way: At least tomorrow we’ll get the first photos of Amare’s new Taj Gibson footprint face tattoo. Taj Gibson had 267% more offensive rebounds than Amar’e Stoudemire had rebounds. Chicago grabbed 440% more offensive rebounds than the Knicks writ large. A Bulls towel boy grabbed an offensive rebound. Michael Jordan’s statue grabbed an offensive rebound. Scottie Pippen grabbed an offensive rebound. At this point, we’re used to watching one category define our failure. But never has that one stat been as glaring as this one.
- As always, there were some questionable whistles from the jailbirds tonight. But for the most part, I thought the game was pretty evenly called — Chicago ended up with 21 fouls to the Knicks’ 20 — and as such lent itself to some pretty heavy 90s nostalgia. Although that could’ve stopped somewhere short of watching the Knicks botch seven consecutive layups on a key late game possession. Say, with our franchise folding in 1947.
- Let’s be honest, the Knicks could very well have folded up like cheap lawn chairs and busted out the excuse rolodex if they really wanted to. Instead, we saw a team that seemed genuinely engaged for most of the game… and not at all in the little moments that mattered. Every loose ball, every jump ball, every weird bounce and every potential break — the Bulls seized, the Knicks ceased.
- Derrick Rose can have my house if he wants it. Dude is quantum. He’s not the most efficient player in the world, but for how that team is constructed and how they play, the mind shudders to imagine a more ideal fit. OK, I can think of one, but no one likes him.
- These guys just can’t handle this. They can’t. Misfortune is one thing, and the Knicks have had their fair share this year. But misfortune combined with fear, shellshock, doubt — that won’t work anywhere, and particularly not in New York City. They know they’re overpaid and underachieving. They know the fans can’t stand them right now. They know, and they let it get to them. And that’s OK. Maybe it’s a good thing having those two title-winning teams be the only title-winning teams. Maybe in this case legend has to become myth has to become religion. Maybe the more distant those memories, the more holy the principles. Maybe the more the decades go by, the more heartbreaks and tragedies we witness and withstand, the more those teams — what they stood for and how they played — gleam on.
Beyond his work for KnickerBlogger, Jim is a contributor to the New York Times Off the Dribble NBA blog, ESPN.com, and The Classical. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, titled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.