As it turns out, it’s better to be on the bad side. At least you have players of obscure talents to rise to the occasion from time to time, like the New York Knicks have in Amare Stoudemire giving Carmelo Anthony a hand, instead of being crippled by injuries to your three starting perimeter players, as the Chicago Bulls continue to sink and look awful in the process.
The worst NBA game of the season? It wasn’t far from it, and in the end the Knicks came away with the 83-78 win. The Knicks had Carmelo Anthony playing without too much interest until the closing minutes, still managing to finish with 30 points and 10 rebounds. The rest of the Knicks’ starting lineup? Only 6-of-24 from the field. At least Kenyon Martin, who played for 35 minutes, had a big game on the boards (7 rebounds) and defensively, as the Knicks were winning by 16 points when he was on the floor.
Amare Stoudmire was also in some sort of zone, especially during the second quarter, as the Knicks made the run that lasted them almost the entire game. He finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds in a rare 30 minute outing from him. The most surprising thing about it? Stoudemire was actually putting quite an effort on defense and doing pretty well most of the night against Boozer, Gibson and Noah.
The Bulls, on the other hand, are sad to look at. No Rose, no Butler and no Luol Deng. They’ve given up on the three-bigs idea, but the lineup that includes Kirk Hinric, Tony Snell and Mike Dunleavy on the perimeter isn’t doing much better. Marquis Teague is doing an awful job as a backup quarterback, which is why the Bulls have just now signed D.J. Augustin, but no one is quite sure if it’ll be enough to help them win eventually, not without Butler and Deng coming back.
The Bulls made only 24 field goals (shooting 33.3% from the field), turning the ball over 22 times and finishing with only 12 assists. Maybe the best definition of how bad this offense is looking right now was after bringing things down to 74-74 thanks to a Joakim Noah tip in, the Knicks once again managed to open a four point lead. On the next possession, Kirk Hinrich dribbled from the outside to beneath the basket and outside again. None of the other Bulls players made any kind of motion, any kind of movement or set any kind of screen to try and make something happen on that offense. It ended with a shot clock violation, and Mike Dunleavy not getting off a shot on time.
So the Knicks might be bad and terrible, but at least they’ve got most of their players to carry them against the weaker of opponents right now. The Chicago Bulls were a lock to finish in the top 3 among the Eastern powers, but right now it seems like even this defense and their tough approach can’t withstand the amount of injuries they’re forced to cope with. Luckily for them, in the East there’s no such thing as ‘you’re too late to make the playoffs’.