Knicks Cruise Past Bulls, 104–89

Double-doubles from Noah and O’Quinn, plus a healthy dose of Kuz guide a deeply needed victory against Chicago

Photo: Jim McIsaac

The Knicks, in the middle of a complete and utter free fall, managed to pull out a victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night. After boasting a four-point lead at the half, the Knicks seized control in the third quarter, extending a lead that they would never relinquish.

On the heels of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks bumped their record up to 18–22. We’ll take a win no matter the caveats at this point in the season.

A few thoughts:

  • A Knicks win had me feeling like a certain Mr. Vader:

(Friday, but before that, December 22. Thanks boys.)

  • The Bulls were incredibly shorthanded on the wing, missing Jimmy Butler, Denzel Valentine, and Nikola Mirotic. A guy named Paul Zipser started. PAUL ZIPSER. Give me strength. This Zipser character, who I’ve heard is very overrated, even played 34 minutes. Sad!
  • This was only the second time all year the Knicks have allowed under 90 points. Defense! Defense!
  • Great game from Carmelo Anthony. These are the type of games that make you believe that he can still be the best player on a great team. He had 23 points, nine rebounds, and six assists to lead the Knicks to victory.
  • The Knicks only allowed 22 points in the first quarter, the first time they have allowed 22 or less since December 28th against Atlanta. So, yay?
  • The Knicks shot 54 percent, held the Bulls to two threes, and held the rebounding advantage in the first half. They only had a three point lead to show for it. I was fully expecting the third quarter to go differently than it did, so I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Out-rebounding the no. 1 rebounding team in the NBA is no small feat, and the Knicks did that tonight. Noah and O’Quinn were the driving forces behind this advantage.
  • You could feel that the Garden crowd is pretty fed up with the subpar play. I was at the Pelicans game on Monday (I know, please keep me in your thoughts), and it was pretty quiet the whole time. The boos rained down as the game went on. Tonight, on one specific play in the first half, ‘Melo took a bunch of dribbles and then chucked up an ill-advised jumper. The crowd serenaded him with the boo birds. New York fans aren’t dumb, and they aren’t easily pleased, either. Never change, MSG.
  • The Knicks did a fairly good job of limiting Dwyane Wade, whose usage rate is insanely high when Butler sits. He can still get up:
  • Kristaps Porzingis missed tonight’s game with a sore achilles, and the Knicks are unsure of when he’ll return. Obviously we want to see Porzingis on the floor, but his health in the long term should be priority number one here for the Knicks. With the current stretch in mind, that should stand to be even more true. KP should not see the floor until he’s 100 percent ready to go.
  • Joakim Noah had another strong game on the boards, finishing with 12 points and 15 rebounds, with nine of those boards coming on the offensive end. He’s had his shoulder bandaged every time he’s been on the bench, so he could probably benefit from a game or two off. We can joke about his ability, but he is a trooper out there. Nice to see the positives that Noah can still bring to a team tonight.
  • KUZ! My son. Kuzminskas set a new career high tonight, finishing with 19 points and four boards. I love this man. More Kuz minutes please!
  • Complain all you want about Derrick Rose, but damn, it is a thing of beauty when he is finishing around the rim:
  • I was never a big believer in Jerian Grant, but he looked good in limited minutes tonight for Chicago. He was a +14 in the first half, leading a charge that gave the Bulls the lead in the second quarter. Good on you, Jerian.
  • Kyle O’Quinn racks up numbers so quickly when he’s on the floor. He corrals rebounds, blocks shots, knocks down his trademark 16-footer, and, of course, shows off the beautiful beard. He had a couple nice finishes on feeds from ‘Melo in the third quarter. Joining Joakim in the double-double brigade, O’Quinn had 12 points and 11 rebounds to go along with four blocks and three assists. A bright spot for a Knicks squad that has been shrouded in darkness recently.
  • This was a nice win for the Knicks. Before this, they had lost nine out of ten, so this one has to feel good. With that being said, the Bulls are bad, and they were missing their best player. At this point though, it’s the little things.

The Knicks are off until Sunday, when they’ll travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors. They’ll have the Raptors, Hawks, Celtics, and Wizards coming up, so we’ll see how they fare against some strong Eastern Conference competition. My guess?

Matt Spendley, senior writer

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