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.

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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at ESPN.com, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

15 thoughts to “Bulls 110, Knicks 106”

  1. The personal fouls ended up tied at 25-25 for each team.

    Way to make your 4th quarter makeup calls subtle.

  2. And any team with a really mobile big man can take away the Chandler lob. That’s one reason Amar’e is such a superior offensive player.

    He did score 34 on that defense last season, mind you.

  3. As I said in the game thread. The refs called the game completely to Chicago’s advantage and decided to changed it up late as a piss poor make up. The fact that we came so close when the makeup calls started does show u how different the game would have been if they weren’t being so badly shafted. They made this comeback with no melo or jr or woodson (or sheed or amare or shump or camby). Like the Grizzlies game, I believe that this team is simply not good enough to beat our full squad unless they get calls like this, which make them out to be better on D than they really are. Yes they are a good defensive team, but just being a thug doesnt make u a good defender and in the game of basketball you should be properly penalised or the game gets out of hand. Thats what fouls are for, to keep the game balanced and force ppl to play good D and not cheat. The knicks looked bad but when the refs are this bad its impossible to know how much was really the teams fault because it changes the way the game is played and how the players can realistically play. You just cant get mad at people for not attacking the rim when they keep getting man-hadled and risking injury for absolutely no gain and the high possibility of a turnover DESPITE making a great drive and putting the defense in a typically disadvantageous position.

    Just cross that off ass a game we could never win, not because we weren’t good enough but cos we werent allowed to unless a miracle happened. Thats the truth. To me, this and the grizzlies game have a huge asterisk next to them, and I believe that despite how it looks, we can beat either in a 7 game series simply because referees simply cant be this retarded 7 games in a row.

  4. Nice change of pace. Let me guess, the recap generator bugged out again?

    A very odd game. Felton’s jumper in downright Mardy Collinsesque. The defense is awful. The switches, the rotations, the man d in the backcourt, the defensive rebounding all of it was just terrible. And the sad part is that it has been bad for a while now.

    Other than his bad fouls, JR smith played great I thought. When Stat returns I do hope he displays an ability to score inside. Teams are defending the three pretty well against the Knicks lately. Some inside scoring might help with that. But how to pull that off without getting in the way of Anthony’s drives from the elbow? Well they will figure it out.

  5. I thought our defense really got back on track in the Brooklyn game, it looked like early season – closing out on shooters, excellent rotations, etc. But giving up 110 points to the Bulls is totally unacceptable. And for a defensive specialist, Ronnie Brewer is almost invisible on the court – when was the last time he drew a charge, got a steal, blocked a shot? The guy has completely regressed and is a liability for the Knicks when he’s in the game.

  6. concerning the Melo no-calls: I have no problem with the refs swallowing their whistle when a star player burst towards the rim, leading with their upper body, creating contact at the rim. i like the no call there. but memories of the refs of this game (and others) are going to become all the more infuriating when I watch a Heat playoff game refereed by these same 3 bozo refs and they call that exact foul for James and Wade over and over and over again

  7. Meanwhile LBJ no fouls in 5 games. It’s really hard to think of the NBA as anything other than the WWW of basketball.

  8. also, were all were sooo robbed by the sheed foot injury. can anyone imagine sheed’s histrionics if he were on the court last night?

  9. You think there’s any chance we see Amare Sunday? The T-Wolves with Peckovic and Love are a load up front, so we desperately need some big bodies. Supposedly, Sheed has a stress fracture, which is not good. And no offense to Kurt, but I”d be happy not to see him on the court any more this season.

  10. Here’s my take: yes, the refs were lousy but we were outplayed, plain and simple. I thought Heinrich was the x-factor in the game, hitting big 3 after big 3 and making lots of nice plays on both ends. I thought most of the blocks on Melo were pretty clean. The P&R was completely shut down and when that happens, guys have to hit shots to open things back up. Brewer lost all of the mojo he had from 3 earlier in the year, and has become a Landry Fields-level player lately (I guess for the minimum, still a steal, but now I can see why the Bulls let him go.)

    Noah has really become a force by improving his offensive game, especially at the FT line where he seems like money. At this point, I think the Bulls have to be in the “serious threat to go to the Finals” category. They are very confident, very well-coached, and very deep. Rose coming back will only help. In fact, you might say that playing without Rose has been a blessing in disguise.

    That said, I don’t think the Bulls have seen the real Knicks yet. They are programmed to play balls out right from the opening tip. We seem to take a while to get into gear (except for Melo.) I think when the stakes get higher, we have another level to go to, whereas the Bulls are already peaking. Shump and Amare (and Sheed and Camby) should help give us more options on both ends.

  11. I also think that Copeland has to play more. He’s a physical forward with a diversified offensive game. I would start to give him most of Brewer’s minutes, some of Novak’s, and some of Sheed’s and see how he handles it.

  12. maxwell_3g:
    also, were all were sooo robbed by the sheed foot injury.can anyone imagine sheed’s histrionics if he were on the court last night?

    I can still remember the pit in my stomach watching this game reached its deepest point when I realized Sheed was missing the technical circus. I’d also like to take this opportunity to set the over/under on what Prigioni’s techs will be for his career at….1? Any takers?
    Finally, that Spike Lee staredown. My personal belief is that Woodson possesses the single greatest staredown face EVER. Spike has clearly noticed this too, I hold out hope that Spike will swap his usual player for a season jersey and instead go with a picture of a Woodson staredown face, front and center on a Knicks jersey. That is literally all I want for Christmas.

  13. NBA rescinded the 2nd tech against Melo. And I have a feeling all 3 refs are in deep conversations with league officials about how they let that game get out of control, and then tried to make it better by over officiating in the 4th quarter.

  14. Agree with Z Man’s points in general. Glad none of our players were hurt last night. Love to see a big come back win tomorrow.

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