The Chicago Bulls game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Friday night was not pretty.
But in a contest against the Knicks that was filled with technical fouls, some sloppy play, an almost deflating injury to another key Bulls player, ejections, and a near fight at the end, it was the kind of game the Chicago seems to thrive best in: ugly.
The final score of 110-106 doesn’t do justice to the fact Chicago basically crushed New York and are now 2-0 against the Eastern Conference leader. The game also illustrated just how much the Bulls have improved of late on both offense and defense as the team has now won four of their last five games and are 15-10 on the season.
Luol Deng (19 points, 13 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (15 points, 12 rebounds, six assists) came up huge for the Bulls in this game, as did Kirk Hinrich (16 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) who put together his most complete – and efficient – game of the season. Marco Belinelli (22 points, seven rebounds) also played well against the Knicks, doing a great job of getting to the free-throw line, shooting 11-12 from the charity stripe. Nate Robinson (11 points) also played well off the bench. Chicago crushed New York on the glass, winning the rebound battle 51-40. At one point, the Bulls held a 25-point lead over the Knicks who never had a lead of any sort in the game. Chicago’s swarming defense forced the Knicks to shoot 42 percent from the field and 31 percent from behind the three-point line, where they’ve been the most dangerous this season.
The Bulls are still having issues turning the ball over, recording 16 on Friday night, while losing the points in the paint battle, 46-34. New York also outscored Chicago in transition, 16-10. Carlos Boozer (nine points, seven rebounds) was a virtual non-factor in the game but fortunately the Bulls really didn’t need him to do much.
The Knicks outscored the Bulls in bench points, 43-19, with 26 of those points coming from JR Smith. The Bulls also gave up 45 points to New York in the fourth quarter after going into the final stanza with a 20-point lead. The Knicks whittled the lead down to six points with just under five minutes to go in regulation, but Chicago was able to hold them off for the win.
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