CHICAGO — It was an emotional return for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, but the former Bulls channeled it into efficient teamwork and ball control to score a much-needed Knicks win at the United Center. Coming off two sub-par losses to Detroit and Houston, New York saw every starter hit double figures and gave fans their first true glimpse of this team’s potential.
RED-HOT START: The Knicks came out with strong ball movement and sharp-shooting from Courtney Lee, who went 5/5 (10 points) in the first as the Knicks jumped out to a 16-point lead. Bulls were powered by Dwyane Wade’s (35 points, 10 rebounds) abnormally hot three-point shooting and offensive rebounding from Taj Gibson. Still, the Knicks held a 32-23 lead after 12 minutes for their best quarter of basketball since the Memphis game.
A SCARE AND RIGHTING THE SHIP: The Knicks’s bench unit couldn’t manage to score even with KP in the lineup. Wade continued hitting threes and Jimmy Butler got to the line, allowing Chicago to take the lead in the final minutes. Although New York was outscored 34-24, a breathtaking half-court lay-up drive from Rose with 4.7 seconds left narrowed the deficit to 56-57 at the half.
PORZINGIS FEASTS: It says something about this game that KP had 27 points and still seemed low-key. He was doing it all over court from threes to running the floor for dunks. The ball moved well and allowed him to exploit mismatches. He got into foul trouble and left the game with around 7 minutes left, but his damage had been done. As Coach Hornacek stated, good things happen when the team gets him involved early. This was an excellent bounce back from the previous game where he had no field goals.
ROSE AND NOAH CLOSE THE SHOW: The Knicks held an 87-84 lead going into the fourth against a Bulls team that refused to go away. KP’s hot shooting sparked a 10-0 run, but his foul departure allowed the Bulls back in it due to Melo’s presence stagnating the ball movement. Three straight bad possessions caused an 8-0 Bulls run that closed the Knicks lead to 98-91.
From there, Rose and Noah caused havoc. Their two-man game got Noah several lay-ups. Rose would nail a tough and-1 lay-up with the shot clock expiring to push the lead to 111-102. And on the next play, a drive and kick for a Melo three would ice the game.
Rose would finish with 15 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds. Noah was equally strong in outplaying Robin Lopez with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
STARTERS STRONG, BUT BENCH STILL WORRISOME: The starting five put in work. Aside from those already mentioned, Melo added 25 points and Lee 17. But our bench could only manage 17 points. Horacek will have to continue being creative with the lineups to prevent scoring droughts.
The Knicks are back home on Sunday to face the Jazz.