2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs Bulls

A week ago before the game at Portland, I wrote that if the Knicks could win that game on the road their favorable schedule would set them up to be a game under .500 tonight. And that is the case, hail to R’hllor, Lord of Light (if you don’t like Game of Thrones and other pop culture references that I do, my apologies for all the shaking your head that you will have to do when reading anything I write), the Red God! Like Jon Snow will almost assuredly do early next season in GoT, the Knicks have quite an opportunity before them to rise from the ashes and sit at .500 after tonight.

The Bulls played a quadruple overtime game last night and are also on the second night of a back-to-back, presumably more exhausted from their efforts than the Knicks’ hop-and-skip to victory over a local Philadelphia high school team. Wait, I’m being told that was an NBA team the Knicks played last night? If you say so. I suppose some of those guys had facial hair but kids are looking older these days.

The Knicks are 1-4 this season on the second night of B2B’s, but only one of those games have come at home. The Bulls are the better team, yes, but the Knicks have a helluva advantage over them tonight after Chicago’s brutal loss to a considerably physical Pistons team. In the NBA, this is popularly referred to a a “schedule loss” in coaching circles. The unfairness of the schedule usually balances out for most teams, but cramming 82 games into a little over 5 months takes its toll on some nights, and for the Bulls, this figures to be one of them.

The KnickGod

Kristaps was quiet last night, as we can expect he will be as most rookies are at times during a season packed with so many games. But Afflalo continued his recent resurgence and it is good to see him gaining confidence and finding his role in the offense. If he can consistently join Melo and Kristaps as a legitimate third scorer, the team makes another small leap forward in terms of competitiveness this year. There’s still a lot to sort out with the bench rotations, but the Knicks do have the makings of a team that could compete for a playoff spot this year, which I’ve been saying for weeks is what they should be trying to do without a draft pick.

The Knicks are actually only 5 1/2 games out of 1st place in the East, but even if they win tonight, they will still be 11th in the conference standings. That’s a shocking amount of parity for a third of the way through the season. For once, the West has a weaker set of teams than the East, most appropriately displayed by the fact that the Knicks would be tied for 6th in the West if they win tonight’s game.

Tonight’s game is crucial for a lot of reasons, chief of which is obviously to complete The Climb (an episode title from GoT!! Coincidence?……no, I purposefully wrote it because I’ve been going back through the series on HBO GO and it’s just on my mind) to .500 against an exhausted team they have every reason to believe they should beat tonight. But another reason is the upcoming schedule, which is about as brutal as the Red Wedding. Including a home game against Orlando on Monday, who we know from a previous loss is not a bad team, the next 10 games on the schedule are as follows:

@Cleveland
@Atlanta
@Boston
Pistons
@Chicago
Atlanta
@Atlanta
@Miami
@San Antonio

Oof. Tough to find wins there. I mean, 3-7 might be considered an achievement in this stretch. It’s been noted that the Knicks have played the easiest portion of their schedule and are about to go into more turbulent weather, but that patch of games is rougher than Ramsey Bolton’s treatment of Theon Greyjoy. Man, I hope you guys watch GoT, or you’re gonna be pissed about this preview. Apologies again to those of you who don’t spend an inordinate amount of your free time watching prestige television, but that’s kinda my thing outside of basketball.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

1) There’s not a lot going on around the league tonight with only 5 games on the schedule, and the only game on before the Knicks’ 7:30 tip is the Lakers at Oklahoma City. I suppose you can find some interest there in simply watching Kobe play in his final season, or watching Durant and Westbrook which is always a treat, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for deciding to watch one of the college bowl games instead. Or rake the yard, or do some more Christmas shopping, or ponder the foundation cracks on the ceiling of your laundry room. Really any other chosen activity is an appropriate alternative to spending 150 minutes of your life watching the Lakers get annihilated.

3) The Pacers/Grizzlies game could be interesting, but Memphis has gone from losing their balance to a full-sprint head-first dive onto a slip-and-slide and on the second night of a B2B after losing to Dallas figures to get their heads caved in by a surprising Pacers squad. The Pacers have retooled their roster with interchangeable players capable of shooting the 3 and guarding multiple positions, and Memphis is still stuck in 1995 and cannot beat the teams playing the modern Golden State-inspired game. I have always liked Memphis because of their blue collar nature and raucous home fans (I’ve been to like five Memphis games and it’s always a blast on Beale Street, believe me), but I think this game gets out of hand and the Grizz continue their backslide in the West hierarchy.

2) I am interested in the Clippers/Houston game, for one because I hate both of those teams and one is guaranteed to lose, but for two because they legitimately hate each other after last season’s 7-game playoff series that the Clippers choked up like a Lego that an infant in their orally-fixated phase found too interesting not to try and swallow. Should be some very real angst in this game and it’s one I’ll be watching from afar like the Three-Eyed Raven. Okay, I promise that was the last GoT reference.

PROMISE IMMEDIATELY BROKEN, LIKE EVERYONE IN KING’S LANDING, I AM A LIAR! HA! GOTCHA! GAME OF THRONES!

Enjoy the festivities, Knicks fans!

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Erik Judd

I'm a lifelong basketball fan whose interests range from some things to other things.

63 thoughts to “2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs Bulls”

  1. Sorry, absolutely no excuse for not winning this game tonight. No Gasol, and coming off a 4 OT loss and getting into NYC at 4 AM.

    I know Butler’s good and Rose makes a shot occasionally, but this has to be a W, especially with the tough schedule ahead.

  2. We need this game and we need to go .500 in those upcoming 10 games too. Those are teams directly ahead of them. Detroit, Atlanta, Boston – all good teams but the Knicks (gasp) are almost good. They just have to prove it. Cleveland and and San Antonio are elite A, Chicago is an A-, Atlanta is a B+, the rest are C+ to B. We need to start beating those B’s because winter is coming.

  3. Speaking of upcoming games, which drug addled schedule maker decided that we should play the same team (Atlanta) 3 times in 10 days? Weird.

  4. Read a good tweet just now, think Popovich would play Rose and Butler tonight after both played over 50 mins last night??

  5. Fisher seems to be adapting. O’Quinn is starting to get about the same PT as Lopez (and he should get more), and I’m really liking the Galloway-Afflalo-Thomas-Anthony lineups.

  6. Every so often Calderon starts running around maniacally like Michael j fox in that family ties when he took too many uppers

  7. Noah is far from done. He’s definitely lost something from his peak, though.

    Man, Zinger with the ugly rookie fouls.

  8. Noah screaming on dunks when his team is losing by 12 is like a wide receiver celebrating in the NFL when his team is down 3 touchdowns.

  9. The watered down version of Shane Battier is going to make me upgrade him to Battier Jr(Lance). Just start getting some rebs, asts, and stls. However, I am happy with the scoring.

  10. I’d be much happier about this game if Chicago wasn’t playing the second game of a back to back after a 4OT loss

  11. watching over the WGN network, even their commentators reckon Knicks need PG upgrade over Calderon (who btw annoyingly argues every ref call like he plays good defense)

    I’d be happier if Brooks play for Knicks than Calderon

  12. The Bulls played one of the toughest regular season games in recent history last night. The Knicks “played”, but no one in the rotation had to tax himself.

    Still, a 17 point lead well-into the fourth quarter is impressive. This team should start 2016 at .500. I wrote that when the Knicks were 4-6 and had just blown a game to the Cavaliers that should have been won. This is a competent .500 team.

    The record will dip during January – March, when the opposition gets tougher. But the April closing lap has a bunch of easily winnable games. This team should end 38-44, which I still think will be enough for the 8 seed.

  13. This pretty much went exactly as expected. Bulls had really no chance to win this game.

    Welcome back to the land of .500, Knicks fans. I’m not gonna do a quick recap because most of what I would say anyways is in the game thread. I’ll go more in depth tomorrow morning before NFL kickoff.

    Oh, and I’m seeing Star Wars tomorrow night, and am extremely excited about that. So may write with a Star Wars theme (episodes 4-6, no spoilers or anything for The Force Awakens). Would you guys like that? Or am I getting reference happy and should just stick to the basketball?

    Either way, I’m off to make a drink. Nice game tonight, feels good to be on a 4-game winning streak. That 4th quarter comeback at Portland really gave the team (and Afflalo) a lot of confidence and I think they should definitely take care of Orlando on Monday in a revenge game.

  14. Oh and @2, thanks for the winter is coming drop. Makes me feel a little better about all my Game of Thrones Stanning =D

  15. I just saw Episode VII – it is really good. No spoilers.

    Using just Episodes IV – VI sounds like a great idea. Of course, KOQ is the world’s biggest EWOK.

  16. Yo THCJ stop obsessing over ruruland and Melo.

    Very professional win. Knicks are handling business against teams they should do it against. Good shit. 50% shooting against an elite defense, hopefully we run more PNR soon.

  17. solid win… this rotation is a lot better…. oquinn by the end of the season is going to wind up being the better C alongside porzingis… afflalo playing like this is going to be key to us making the playoffs or not…

  18. Was thinking of going Chewy with O’Quinn but Lopez may be better suited now that I consider your post, so I think I will steal that idea from you ephus, good shit.

  19. That 4th quarter comeback at Portland really gave the team (and Afflalo) a lot of confidence

    That game sort of reminded me of a win in Utah a few years ago, where Kurt Thomas was heroic, the Knicks salvaged the end of a horrid road trip and then went on a nice winning streak.

  20. Nice win, always good to beat the Bulls, even if they are coming of a 4OT game the night before. Great game by Melo, very efficient. Afflalo has become a reliable scoring option. Kristaps didn’t put up big numbers, but was solid. This team is looking better, not great, but better.

  21. If the Knicks are seriously going to contend for a playoff spot these next 9 games are huge. All 9 are vs East teams ahead of them in the standings, 6 of them on the road. Their 10th game is at San Antonio, so thats 7 of the next 10 on the road all vs teams currently with winning records.

  22. A veteran scoring guard who could give us 15 good minutes would help us a lot. A Jamal Crawford type. Can we get him?

  23. How big a difference would Gasol have made for the Bulls? There was some nice defense. I think that 50+ minutes last night for Rose was more of a factor. Still, an impressive win.

  24. Thanks, Pistons, we needed that!

    Did that game play a big factor? Of course, but it reminds me of the opening night game – the Bucks were without their best player and played like shit in general, but at the same time, the Knicks destroyed them. Which is what teams are supposed to do, ya know? So yes, this was as Erik so nicely put it, a “schedule loss,” but teams don’t always win schedule losses and especially not easily – so I was really impressed that the Knicks just kicked their asses. They’re winning pretty much every game that they “should” win, which is a sign of at least a team that won’t collapse. If the East weren’t so darn improved, this would really look like a legit playoff team.

    My wife and I were hosting a holiday party and people wanted the Jets game on in the background, so I only got to watch the game as a recording later – it was a nice early Christmas present. :) I also have Eric Decker on my fantasy team and I’m in the playoffs, so his TD was nice, too (I’m playing my wife in the first round of the playoffs, which is super weird).

  25. I would read a Stars Wars inspired recap for sure….

    Pretty excited about the Knicks being at 500. Also, looks like Porzingis had a nice stable game. Want to see him keep developing, production been a little lumpy of late…..

  26. (I’m playing my wife in the first round of the playoffs, which is super weird).

    If you don’t log into your wife’s account at 12:59 on Sunday and start all her bench players you are not a man.

  27. That’s funny, Brian!
    In Game 1, he Bucks were missing Giannis, Parker and Mayo, but they were a deep team. We were missing Afflalo. So agreed, it was a golden opportunity on the road and we kicked butt.

    Thus far, “scheduled losses” that became wins:
    @ Bucks
    @Wizards
    @Raptors
    @Thunder
    @Rockets
    Bulls
    Maybe Pelicans? (based on preseason hype)
    My favorite “scheduled loss” was vs. OKC. Durant was out, but you figured we would have no way to stop Westbrook. Then the Raptors (although Carroll was out for them! Man, have we caught some teams at the right time!)

    “Scheduled wins” that became losses:
    Maybe @Magic?
    Maybe Mavs?
    Maybe @Kings?
    Maybe @Jazz?
    All of these teams were at least decent on paper going into the season.

    So thus far, we are way ahead of the game. We were fortunate to catch certain teams at the right time, but a win is a win! The main thing is that we haven’t had a single embarrassing loss. You have to give Fisher some credit for that.

  28. We had our fair share of embarrassing losses.

    The loss to the Jazz and Heat were beyond awful.

    And we are blowing 10 point fourth quarter leads since the first game of the season.

  29. If you express a lot of strong opinions you will inevitably be wrong some of the time.

    I’ve been screaming here and on twitter that Fisher should be playing O’Quinn over Seraphin.

    I’ve also been screaming that he shouldn’t be playing Lance Thomas. I actually think I was correct when I was screaming that. Thomas was scoring better than he had in the past, but he was not bringing much else to the table and I thought his net value was still quite negative. Ever since then though, he keeps getting better. Now it’s at the point where he’s playing good ball.

    Is this an unsustainable mirage or is Lance Thomas finding himself at age 27?

  30. I think Fisher did the right thing with O’Quinn. He was unhappy with effort and benched him. By all accounts, his efforts in practice and on defense have picked up. O’Quinn got his minutes back.

  31. MSA, we’re comparing apples to oranges. I’m strictly comparing the outcome to the pre-game prediction (point spread is a good indicator, I guess.)

    We certainly would not be betting favorites vs. the Heat or the Cavs either home or away. Therefore, blowing a 10-pt lead to the Cavs is not embarrassing. Losing to the Heat is certainly not embarrassing. In other words, I’m not considering how well or poorly we played, only whether we won or lost compared to reasonable expectations.

    For example:
    Losing to the Sixers, Nets or Lakers whether at home or on the road would be embarrassing.
    Losing to teams like the T-Wolves, Suns, Nuggets, Blazers, etc. at home is embarrassing.
    Losing to exhausted/depleted teams (e.g last night’s Bulls) is embarrassing.

    We really haven’t had any of those kinds of losses.

  32. re: O’Quinn vs. Seraphin, the other side of it is that they actually invested $3.2m in Seraphin and it would be weird if they didn’t give him a long look in the rotation. I’m glad that they didn’t fall in love with his occasional and brief streaks of strong play. He is very Bargnani-like.

    O’Quinn has some rough edges. Even though it’s generally good-natured, he seems to have a big, loud mouth for a part-time player. He’s known to be a locker room clown, and his antics probably grate on Fisher at times, rightfully so. It’s not like he’s an established successful veteran like Rasheed Wallace was. He handled the benching well and stayed positive and ready, so I’ll give him that.

    As to Lance, maybe he’s following in the footsteps of Demarre Carroll, who pretty much sucked until age 27, and then developed a 3-point shot. He’s also getting to the FT line at a pretty good clip. Not sure if the shooting is sustainable, but if he keeps it up, he’s a great bargain! Nice move by Phil/Fish.

  33. If you express a lot of strong opinions you will inevitably be wrong some of the time.

    NONSENSE

    I take it you are not a gambler. :-)

  34. Re Lance you wonder whether someone identified a mechanical problem with his shot. It still looks ugly but it’s getting harder and harder to write off his shooting as a hot streak. Even his FT percentage is really good.

    Unfortunately he is an UFA after this year. Although we will have at least EB rights.

  35. Unfortunately he is an UFA after this year. Although we will have at least EB rights.

    And remember how mad we all were that the team dipped into its leftover cap space to give Lance (and Lou) a bit more than the vet minimum salary as a reward for playing hard and helping change the culture last season? If Lance’s play so far isn’t a mirage, the fact that we gave him more money than we needed to, and that Fish has shown more faith in him than any previous coach, could help us keep him this summer without having to pay an absurd amount.

  36. Good points, alsep. I am a Duke fan (cue all of you hating me forever, but my Dad is a Duke fan and I was born into it so don’t give me too much shit) and loved Lance Thomas when he played there in college.

    Been great to see him coming into his own these last couple years and carving out a spot for an NBA career. The guy went undrafted and he is starting to look like a solid rotation player for a playoff team, and I’m proud of him.

    He is a loyal guy and I expect your points about how Fisher and the Knicks have handled him are astute in how he repays the favor after this year.

  37. No, Lance was below average before and this streak of above averageness is not sustainable. No one ever improves. Everyone’s game never changes.

    We all know that anyone within three years of thirty years in age should be replaced with an inferior younger player with higher upside. People with sneaker contracts are always overrated. If you’ve never heard of someone and they’re a teenager, sign them. If someone only dunks and never takes more than five shots they are efficient if they make three of them. Don’t ever play with your back to the basket. Don’t ever take a shot that isn’t a dunk or a three. Get fouled if at all possible, unless you’ve never learned to to make FT’s, in which case you’ll receive a max deal :-)

    What else? Knicks are 14-14. Lah dee dah.

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