Wow, who saw this coming? After a gutsy, confident win against Brooklyn at home, the Bulls go into Fedex Forum in Memphis and had a disappointing showing. That game saw the return of Kirk and he was clearly a step slow… Both in making the offense flow and his own shooting. (4 pts. 5 assists, 4 rebs in 31 min). Memphis also didn’t come out with their A game, so it was a shame that we couldn’t take advantage.
After that, the Bulls face a slumping Boston team in Chicago, and just dominate the contest from start to finish. No sign of the sluggish team that couldn’t execute to save its life down in Memphis. Noah notched the second triple-double of his career (11 pts. 13 rebs, 10 asts). Nate went unconscious from behind the 3-pt. line, knocking down 5-7. Nice team win.
This brings us to last night, where the Bulls go into the home of the new league “darlings”, the New York Knicks. Many fans dismissed the Bulls decisive, defensive win over the Knicks a couple of weeks ago in Chicago, stating that they were without Melo. I thought they decisively beat the defending World Champs (in Miami) without Melo didn’t they? Regardless, Bulls would leave no doubt that their win was no fluke. They came out aggressive and Kirk found his shot early, knocking down 2 of his 4 three-point shots in the first quarter, helping the Bulls mount a 7 pt. lead after one.
Even though Jo nearly netted another triple double (15 pts. 12 rebs. 6 asts.), I’m giving this game ball to both Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng. Won’t show up in the stat sheet (although Lu would also go for 29 pts., which was a true bonus), but they made Melo play in a crowd, attached themselves to most of his drives to the hoop, which resulted in either blocks at the rim or misses. Melo also spent a significant amount of time demonstratively showing his disappointment about not getting calls after this physical play. This is what concerns me about Anthony. He has been blessed with all of the physical tools, can be a vocal leader for his team, but I question whether he has the mental makeup of a champion? Players with the champion “gene” adjust, rally and win games like this anyway.
The final score does not tell the story at all. The only reason the contest ended up so close is that the Knicks finally started to play more team basketball and team defense after J.R. Smith fouled out and Melo subsequently got ejected with 6:45 left in the game. The middle really opened up after Joakim and Tyson got the boot as well. It just seemed like finally, other Knicks (besides Felton who needed 21 shots to get 21 pts.) were able to touch the basketball.
The stats don’t lie. New York had a pedestrian 14 assists on 38 made field goals. They would also take 91 shot attempts vs. the Bulls 83. This is a weakness that will be exploited in the playoffs and should concern Knicks fans. They rely on jumpers too much, are bothered by physical play and can go through stretches of one-on-one, isolation play style basketball.
In Game Tweets:
— Juvie P. (@jp3chi) December 22, 2012
@phllp_wnslw Basically the Bulls showed the league that they can win games w/o their superstar unlike other teams (Heat & Lakers)
— Tamara Devereaux (@YeahTam) December 22, 2012
Ahh just like them old times! Bulls-Knicks rivalry! DAAAA BULLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! — (@vanialuv) December 22, 2012
This isn’t a team I’m afraid of in the playoffs. Great teams don’t let this kinda stuff get to them. Especially their coaches
— keira (@SpearsKeira) December 22, 2012
— Jake #TeamBulls (@BullsBlog) December 22, 2012
Bulls in ATL tonight! I’m sure we won’t be seeing the “battle of the Teagues”, but its kinda cool that Jeff (Wake Forest) gets to actually see his little brother Marquis (Kentucky) on the Bulls bench as an NBA player. I know their parents must be proud.
Atlanta is a tough team to scout because you really don’t know what team is going to show up to play. They can be scattered, get caught up in isolation play, chuckfests, etc. Other times they can play a mean brand of team basketball so we’ll see. They have Korver now who’s shooting ability will stretch the Bulls defense (we know to respect that shot if other teams don’t!) and Lou Williams.
Losses to both OKC and Philadelphia last night will have the Hawks HUNGRY for a win, especially at home. Bulls will be motivated to extend win streak to 3. Should be a nice battle.
KEY BULLS STATS
KEY HAWKS STATS
I’ll be in-game tweeting from @ChiTwnBullsBlog! Follow us for the latest… Game is airing on WGN at 6:00 P.M. CST. Careful to DVR this game, as WGN basketball broadcasts are not replayed later like the CSN games. Let’s GO #BullsFam!