The Chicago Bulls Defense: This ball-buster can be summed up by one simple stat:
That's what the Bricks, er, Knicks shot from three-point range last night. For those of you who enjoy simple math, that's a 66 percent rate of accuracy.
Can you say "outlier"? No, really. Let's compare that to how well New York shot threes in their first three games: 7-for-24 (29 percent), 9-for-27 (33 percent) and 7-for-28 (25 percent). As a whole, that's 23-for-79 (29 percent).
So...yeah. Still, you'd think that, at some point, the Bulls would have come at them with some aggressive hand-to-the-face action, right?
Then there was the whole Danilo Gallinari situation. Check out the kid’s game log. Going into last night's game, he had scored a total of 18 points on the season while going 5-for-25 (20 percent) from the field and 2-for-11 (18 percent) from downtown. Against the Bulls, Gallinari scored 24 points -- 21 in the first half -- on 7-for-11 (63 percent) shooting, including 4-for-4 (100 f**king percent) from beyond the arc.
It doesn't stop there. It's just getting started.
In all fairness, Toney Douglas had been playing better than Gallinari. He'd scored a total of 32 points in New York's first three games while going 14-for-28 (50 percent) from the field...although only 3-for-12 (25 percent) from three-point range. Last night, Douglas wet 9-for-14 (64 percent) from the field and 5-for-9 (55 percent) on threes. He finished with a career-high 30 points.
Said Douglas: "I make sure that every time I shoot it that I have confidence that it’s going in. I can miss 10 in a row. I’m going to shoot the next one and make it."
Allen Iverson would be proud. But I can guarantee Tom Thibodeau isn't.
The crazy thing is, it's not like the Bulls weren't playing any D. They held New York to 42 percent shooting (24-for-56) inside the arc (thanks largely to Amar''''''e Stoudemire -- see below). Yes, they were slow to rotate on several three-point attempts. And some rotations were missed entirely. But several of those threes were contested. The Knicks were just unconscious. Raymond Felton -- a 32 percent career three-point shooter -- went 4-for-6. Bill Walker and Landry Fields each went 1-for-1.
It was demoralizing. Especially at the end of the first half, when everybody in a Bulls uniform looked shell-shocked. What can you do when your opponent is shooting beyond lights out? Every Chicago run was answered by another three-pointer or two or three or...they just kept coming. Next thing you know, the Bulls were leaving their feet, reaching in, and hacking their way to giving up 29 free throw attempts.
The Knicks were even on fire from the line, going 24-for-29 (82 percent) after shooting 18-for-27 (66 percent) and 14-for-25 (59 percent) in their previous two games.
The Bulls further hurt their cause with careless passing, giving up 26 points off 20 turnovers. The starters combined for 14 of those turnovers. Don't get me wrong. The extra passing was leading to offense -- Chicago had 27 assists on their 42 buckets -- but you don't want it leading to offense for the other team too.
Well, that's what happened last night. Especially during the final minutes of the second quarter. With the Knicks leading by 20-ish and closing in on a 70-point first half, the Bulls looked sluggish and confused, leading to one of the worst four-possession sequences I've ever seen: Possession 1: Noah was called for a three-second violation. Possession 2: Gibson traveled. Possession 3: Deng had the ball stolen by Gallinari. Possession 4: Deng committed an offensive foul.
The saddest part of the whole mess is that Thibs had to bench Deng, Noah and Rose to fire up his team. And Chicago's reserves very nearly made a game of it. A three-pointer by Korver cut New York's lead to 95-87 with 11:21 to go in the fourth. Of course, Douglas nailed a trey on the Knicks' next possession.
That's just the kind of night it was for the Bulls.
The New York Knicks defense: Let me be clear about this: The Knicks beat the Bulls because they drilled nearly 70 percent of their three-point attempts. They didn't win because of their defense.
The Bulls actually had a great offensive night themselves, shooting 52 percent from the field and nearly 50 on threes (9-for-19). Derrick Rose was great (24 points, 14 assists), Kyle Korver was on fire (18 points, 7-for-10), Taj Gibson was hitting on all cylinders (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Joakim Noah was Joakim Noah (12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks).
Sure, the Knicks had 12 steals, but a lot of those were the results of really sloppy passes by the Bulls.
Amar''''''e Stoudemire: Before the game, the TNT crew (Ernie, Kenny and Charles) were discussing STAT's season-to-date. I don't remember the exact quotes, but I believe Ernie asked whether Stoudemire misses Steve Nash on offense, and Kenny replied that Nash was missing Amar''''''e more.
Sure, Stoudemire came into the game averaging over 20 PPG. But he was also shooting 45 percent...down from almost 56 percent last season and 54+ percent for his career. Against the Bulls -- and on a night when seemingly every other Knicks player had it going -- STAT went 5-for-21 (23 percent). All that three-point shooting should have opened up the inside for Amar''''''e to g to work, right?
In theory. And if Stoudemire had actual inside moves and stuff. His entire post-up menu seems to be composed of 1) beat defender off the dribble or layup or dunk, and 2) fumble around the paint until I can force up an awkward jumper/scoop/chuck/etc.
But hey, at least he had 8 turnovers and 6 personal fouls.
Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, quote machine: While discussing Amar''''''e:
Chuck: "What do you call a power forward averaging 7 rebounds a game?"C.J. Watson: 1-for-7 and rapidly losing confidence in his jumper. As well he sould be.
Kenny: "A small forward."
Derrick Rose's respect for human life: Out of the Bulls many lowlights against the Knicks comes this one highlight: D-Rose trying to destroy anyone within a five-foot radius of the rim. Thanks to AnacondaHL for providing linkage.
And now again in HD...with replays:
Eddy Curry sighting: Did you know: Eddy Curry's $60 million contract was simply a clever ruse by Isiah Thomas to sign LeBron James? I'm dead serious. More on this below.
Ozzie Guillen: With no regard for human
The Portland Trail Blazers: I can't bust on the Frail Blazers too much.
Typical of this team's luck, they were already minus two centers (Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla) before Fabricio Oberto retired on them (see below). Portland also announced on Thursday that rookie Elliot Williams is likely out for the season because of surgery to repair a dislocated right patella. Oh, and then Rudy Fernandez missed the game because of back pain.
So it's not too surprising they were outlasted by the Thunder.
Still, Portland coach Nate McMillan thought his team wimped out a little bit: "I just think we settled. I thought there were lanes to drive and get to the basket against this team. There were a few times where we settled for the jump shot. We shot the ball well in the first half. In the second half, we continued to rely on the jump shot as opposed to attacking, being aggressive, playing from the inside out. We played on the perimeter tonight."
Reality check: The Blazers outscored the Thunder 50-34 in the paint. According to the shot chart, they attempted 28 layups. According to Hoopdata, NBA teams average 22.3 shots at the rim per game...and Portland averages 22.6. Of course, Oklahoma City currently leads the league in giving up shot attempts at the rim (31.0) and their opponents shoot the ninth-highest percentage from that range...so maybe Nate has a point.
Seattle Super Sonics fans: I appreciate their pain. I do. But at this point, it's kind of like Mike Tyson asking for another shot at Buster Douglas.
Isiah Thomas: Has the man lost his mind? The answer is "yes" of course, but I'll let you be the judge. From ESPNNewYork:
Isiah Thomas thought he would be dead by age 20, so at 49 he offers no apologies for betting on himself. Exiled in Miami, haunted by his proximity to LeBron James, Thomas embraces his articles of blind faith like one would a baby in a storm.Whaaaaaa...? But wait. There's more.
Isiah believes James (and perhaps Dwyane Wade) would be starting for the New York Knicks if Isiah had remained president of the team.
Isiah believes he can recruit James out of Miami and into Madison Square Garden in 2014.
Isiah believes that, with or without James, he will someday help the Knicks win their first NBA title since 1973.
"I want to be on the float and I want to get my ring," Thomas said.
Asked if he hopes to replace Donnie Walsh whenever the 69-year-old Knicks president retires, Thomas said, "Every single day of the week.Not done yet.
"When I look at my GM/executive record, if I'm evaluated on that, then whoever's after Donnie, if you're not talking about some of the top people in the game, I'll put my draft evaluation record up against anyone's."
Vin Baker, Jerome James, Jared Jeffries.Yeah, as in: "Watch out, whatever nasty shit they have all over them might get on you."
There's no defending that, and Thomas knows it.
"But there were 24 All-Stars last year," he said, "and I left New York with two of them, David Lee and Zach Randolph. Jamal Crawford became a sixth man of the year."
Thomas believes injuries cost the Knicks a playoff appearance in 2007, the year he replaced Brown on the bench. "Before the trial," he said, "people weren't saying bad things about the Knicks. They were saying, 'Watch out for the Knicks.'"
Here's the best part though.
Thomas said he needed to make the trade for Stephon Marbury to resuscitate a dead franchise. He blamed Brown for moving Trevor Ariza in the deal to acquire Steve Francis. Surrendering the draft picks that became LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah for Curry?So let me get this straight. Wildly overpaying for Eddy Curry was all part of Isiah's master plan to bring King Crab to New York. He can't be serious. He just can't. It's not medically possible to be that retarded...is it?
Curry played at a high level for Thomas for a bit, but soon enough devolved into a symbol of everything that went wrong between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
"There was a method behind the madness," Thomas said. He was confident Curry would opt out in 2010 to clear the necessary space for a fellow client of Leon Rose, name of LeBron James.
"My instincts always told me LeBron would be great in New York," Thomas said. "I remember talking to Jerry West about when he was going after Shaq and how he mortgaged the team and what he went through. I kept saying to Jerry, 'I think if I position this right, I'll have a shot at LeBron.'"
Okay, I might have been wrong. This is probably the best part.
"In Toronto, Indiana and New York," Thomas said, "I've never actually gotten fired for a basketball reason."Fun fact: During Isiah's reign of terror as the New York's President of Basketball Operations, the Knicks went 151-259 -- including 56-108 during his two-year stint as head coach -- and had zero playoff appearances. But he's never been fired for "a basketball reason."
Heart problems: They've robbed us of the Fabulous Oberto, who has officially retired because of a cardiac condition that caused heart palpitations and, presumably, totally awesome hair.
In a statement, Oberto said: "I made this decision to put my health and my family in front of basketball. It was a tough decision to make after playing for so many years, but it was the right one."
We at Basketbawful wish Oberto -- and especially his hair -- well.
Lacktion report: Chris had one brief entry from the Thunder-Blazers game: "Cole Aldrich combined currency for a 4.1 trillion (4:08) celebratory collection!"