Bulls 110, Knicks 106
Editor’s note: In lieu of the classic Knickerblogger recap, I decided instead to attempt a more classic pyramid piece (you’ll thank me later). Such is what’s demanded on an ulgy night filled with ugly basketball and ugly weather but when we also made it to the other side.
For those of you interested in grades and only grades, here’s everyone’s grade:
Beliefs in the human-altering weight of the Mayan Calendar – reset on December 21st after a bunch of thousands of years and one John Cusack knee-slapper – tended to take one of two forms:
1) Humanity has been in said tailspin for thousands of years, and this year’s special solstice was to be the point at which the pendulum – for thousands of years now angled downward so as to gouge out our better nature and till a blood-spoiled soil – finally took flight, marshaling in a new era of human love, kindness, and understanding, or:
2) That the earth’s magnetic fields would reverse, polls shift, and calamities running the gamut from earthquakes to tsunamis to solar flares to crabs would throw civilization into an inescapable tailspin, where the only survivors would be stout, barrel-chested Italians, pocket-sized super models, and Joakim Noah.
For anyone who watched tonight’s game, the latter would seem far more an accurate template.
In a game that featured countless octaves worth of boos, 50 fouls, 58 free throws, eight technical fouls, four ejections, multiple epic stare-downs, and a partridge in a shit tree, and where “holiday cheer” was as abundant as a fairly-priced cocktail, the thick-skinned Bulls once again managed to dictate engagement’s terms en route to a 110-106 victory that, in the words of Edelorbe from P&T, was pretty much the biggest four-point ass-kicking ever.
Luol Deng (29 points, 13 rebounds) did his best Carmelo Anthony impression, Joakim Noah (15 and 12) leeched into the Knicks’ skin like bearded mercury, and Marco Bellinelli snakecharmed his way once again to a superlative stat line (22, seven rebounds and a pair of steals) to help the Bulls hand the ‘Bockers just their second home loss of week and year alike.
Despite 29 belabored points from Carmelo Anthony (on 25 shots – told you), the Knicks struggled to facilitate anything resembling a coherent offense, settling instead for contested mid-range jumpers or fruitless tin-takes and playing directly into Tom Thibodeau’s balding hands.
Raymond Felton, clearly out to cut Kirk Heinrich’s jib, (Kirk stole Ray’s Fugees mix tape at AAU camp back in ’96), once again stampeded his way around the court like bullmoose in the rut and this is where this sentence stops because my head literally just caught on fire thinking about this.
The Knicks needed to get Tyson Chandler involved early, as much for his own confidence as to put pressure on Noah, arguably the most indispensable Bull beyond the still-recovering Rose. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much in the way of hot 1-5 P&R action out of the gate, with the Knicks instead taking the Bulls’ bait of as many mid-range jumpers as they could fit in .
Thanks, Ronnie Brewer. Happy Holidays.
Clearly rested after spending last night reading Good Night Moon to himself and going to bed at 7:30, J.R. Smith was pretty much the only one not intimidated by the Bulls’ junk-twisting D, with aggressive tin-takes and confident makes — including a beautiful buzzer-beating three at the end of the first — adding a stone’s spark to piss-soaked tinder. Earl finished with a season-high 26 points and 10 in a measured and sensible performance that OH MY GOD MY HEAD IS ON FIRE AGAIN.)
From go the Knicks played like they had sacks of lead about their heels, giving the Bulls free pass through paint and clean looks from deep and generally looking like statues on rollerblades.
All the while, a combination of pinpoint Bulls shooting, bad bounces, miserable rebounding (51-40 on the night), and incongruent offense would give the Bulls a 54-39 halftime advantage. All the while, tensions mounted, elbows elbowed a little bit closer to the face, and the Garden suddenly looked like it might actually become the epicenter of humanity’s doom. And John Cusack would be there to witness it. Oh wait, that’s Jerry Seinfeld.
The Bulls’ lead mushroomed to as large as 23 in the second half, as Thibadeau’s troops continued to gnaw and nag their way below the Knicks’ skin. Then, all Native South American tequila-fueled hell broke loose.
Melo, who’d already been whistled for a technical in the first half for arguing with the dude that looks like Paul Ryan (<3 u Bob) after a questionable no-call at the other end, picked up his second T and was summarily tossed.
At that point, the boozed-up Garden crowd flew off the Penn Station rails. This clearly fed Mike Woodson, who was nailed for his second tech (I’ve never seen a coach get kicked out for saying “Love you” to a referee but there it is) and joined Anthony for shots of absinthe in the locker room.
A few minutes after that, Chandler and Noah started mashing their elbows and face fur together on a Chicago inbounds and also got canned. But not before Tyson slipped Jo a re-mix of Noah’s post-bucket screams set to a beat on Plastic Ono Band that doesn’t exist.
By then the Knicks were back a bunch of buckets but of course they tried their hand at an impossible late-game flurry and damn near closed it out save for the easy trap-beating baskets and free throws.
And that there’s how you turn an ass kicking into a respectable score, kids.
Here’s the thing: When you have a squad as purpose-built as our Knicks, certain teams will be similarly purpose-built to beat you. So far, both the Bulls and the Rockets – for far different reasons, but effective ones nonetheless – have proven themselves custom-built for ‘BOCKER DESTRUCTION. (I FEEL LIKE THE FONT SHOULD BE BIGGER THAN THIS?)
It was seriously one of the worst basketball games ever televised — that much is clear. That said, it’s basketball, this is one game, we also have an All-Star out, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter, but it does because it really can bring us together in very real way and we need that right now and we deserve that because we deserve one another and I totally subscribe to #1 so let’s be better people and Happy Holidays, everyone. Go Knicks.
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.