No superstars, no media hype. The Chicago Bulls continue to roll with impressive wins, this time beating the New York Knicks, which isn’t too hard these days, 109-90, as Joakim Noah notches a triple double while Carmelo Anthony grows more disillusioned with his own team with every loss that comes by.
Chicago jumped at the jugular right from the start, finishing the first quarter with a 21 point lead. It’s hard to say if the Knicks have completely given up on this season, but they didn’t look like a team that even deserves to be in the NBA with their defense, selfishness and laziness through the early goings of the game.
The Bulls? They’re without Derrick Rose and have traded away Luol Deng, but Thibodeau’s team is smart, disciplines and patient. Adding Jimmer Fredette might be another piece in the puzzle in order for them to make these playoffs about more than just punching a ticket and bowing to either Miami or Indiana.
But Fredette didn’t really do much. He played for three minutes and scored two points, faster than any other Bulls player making his debut. That’s nice for the stat sheets. But the real causes for this win and their general excellent form (nine wins in ten games) begin with Joakim Noah.
The center did whatever he wanted to on the floor, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. He is the first center to finish with 14 assists since Sam Lacey in 1978-79 for the Kansas City Kings. Six of his assists came to a cutting man, which seems to be Chicago’s go-to play these days, and five more were on a catch-and-shoot play, as a little bit of off-the-ball movement always creates open shots against the Knicks.
Jimmy Butler’s biggest moment was when he took the long way back to the court in the first quarter, but he had another solid performance with 19 points, going to the line 14 times and shutting down anyone he guarded. The New York media turned Iman Shumpert into something he’s not, but if you’re looking at a tweener who can defend and shoot, Butler might be the best example for young role players in the league right now.
The top scorer in the game was actually D.J. Augustin. The inconsistent point guard came off the bench to score 23 points, outscoring even Carmelo Anthony (21), finishing with 7-of-10 from the field and embarrassing the Knicks’ defense more than once.
But maybe the most impressive number to come out of this game for the Bulls happened to be their turnover column, losing the ball only three times. That’s the best we’ve seen this season, and one turnover shy of matching the NBA record of only two turnovers in one game.
The Knicks? There’s not a lot left to say. Their head coach is helpless, and their star player is dropping hints of leaving like there’s no tomorrow. Looking around and seeing Raymond Felton put on another disastrous performance is enough to make a player look for a new team.
The Bulls are going to battle for that third spot with the Raptors for the rest of this season, and right now are carrying as good of a momentum as anyone else in this league. And to think that it looked like they were going to tank when they announced that Deng for Bynum trade two months ago.
The Knicks are sad, slow and most of all bad. Carmelo Anthony isn’t trapped – he’s part of the situation and the problem, only a bit better than the rest of the players assembled around him.