Triumphant Homecoming: Rose and Noah Lead Team Effort Win in Chicago

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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.

[Video] Carmelo Anthony Talks Opting Out and Free Agency Decision

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Just one day after officially opting out of the last year of his contract with the New York Knicks, I’m already over “Melodrama 2014.” Unfortunately, the drawn-out process has just begun. For Knicks fans, don’t give up hope yet, as this interview with Vice Sports shows that Melo is still leaning towards staying home. In this short but informative video, Melo talks about his family loving New York and dismisses the much-reported story that his main reason for opting out is that he wanted to “win now.”

One very important thing to keep in mind — this video was reportedly filmed on June 3. A lot could have happened with Melo’s mindset in the last 21 days.

[Video] Knicks Stifle 2nd Half Collapse, Beat Depleted Bulls 83-78

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The Knicks held off would have been an epic collapse in blowing a 23-point second half lead courtesy of a 33-10 run, but held on to defeat a Bulls team missing key starters and preventing another disgraceful home loss. There were some excellent positives in the first half, but the way the game ended had most Knicks fans shaking their heads. Nonetheless, a win is a win, and the Knicks need to take games like this if there’s any hope of this squad repeating as Atlantic Division champs.

 

MOVING THE BALL, FORCING TURNOVERS: Being that the Knicks went down by 20 in the first quarter of their last two games, it was considered a positive to see the team down by just two (17-15) despite shooting just 26%. With Raymond Felton out with a pulled left hamstring, Pablo Prigioni got the starting call. The quarter was ugly to watch in terms of offensive execution for New York, but there were flashes a good defense on both sides — the Bulls protected the rim with several blocks, and the Knicks forced multiples turnovers to keep it close.

 

FEED STAT: Playing the second night of a back to back, there was concern among the Knicks staff of what Amar’e Stoudemire could offer. That was quickly silenced with Stat showing his nifty Hakeem Olajuwon post moves and long-lost outside jumper for 10 points in 12 minutes of first half play. His work ignited a 19-0 run that included Beno Udrih giving valuable minutes at point guard, and Tim Hardaway lighting it up from the perimeter. The Bulls, with Mike Dunleavy cooling off from a hot first quarter, didn’t get their first field goal of the second quarter until five minutes were remaining.

Stat’s energy was also contagious. Kenyon Martin had an awesome three-block sequence around the rim that made the Bulls think twice about taking their shots inside. The ball movement and varied offense improved the Knicks shooting to 45% at the half, and they outscored Chicago 31-15 over the final 12 mintues to take 46-32 lead. Melo and Stat were a combined 10-16 from the field for 25 points.

 

THE TURNING POINT: All was still well early in the third. It wasn’t until a completely idiotic play from Stoudemire that things went south. He missed a pass that went into the backcourt. Instead of picking it immediately for the Over and Back turnover, Stat inexplicably just hovered around it like he was protecting a football punt. Dunleavy promptly picked it up and  scored a lay-up.

Suddenly, the Knicks collectively lost their entire IQ. They started turning the ball over on what seemed like every play, and the Bulls attacked the rim for an 8-0 run to pull within 14 (68-54) at the end of the third.

 

FOURTH QUARTER COMEDY: The Knicks downward spiral continued with the team forgetting everything that got them the lead. The offense became predictable with the ball being constantly dumped into Melo for isolations, sometimes beginning around the three-point line. Melo wasn’t happy with these plays, but Prigioni couldn’t get any plays going and spent too much of the clock dribbling around the perimeter. With Stat on the floor, it made little sense that no plays were run for him.

While the Knicks were blowing layups and bricking jumpers, the Bulls were getting to the rim by breaking down the defense and getting a tip-in from Joakim Noah (which tied it at 74). The Bulls were on a massive 33-10 run, and it took a mid-range Stoudemire jumper to stop the bleeding and get the Knicks back up by 76-74.

 

NO “CLOSER” BENEFITS THE KNICKS: With the Bulls missing Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler on top of Derrick Rose, there was no one on the floor that could get their own shot consistently to put Chicago over the top. Their plays also degraded into random isolations and shot clock violations, allowing the Knicks to push the lead to five after Melo got to the line twice. In the end, the Knicks were able to hold on.

 

WOODSON LIVES ANOTHER DAY: If the Knicks would’ve lost this game, everyone would have been calling for Woody’s head (more than they already are now). It’s not all on him — the team has to get stronger mentally. But there’s no excuse why after scoring 10 points in the first half, Stat only ended up with 14 points for the game. Woody has to keep him involved throughout the game if he’s hot. We do not have many scoring options at the moment.

 

INJURIES: Iman Shumpert left the game in the third with a bruise to his left knee. Considering he was scoreless up until that point, it wasn’t a huge loss. Raymond Felton may have to miss significant due to a left pulled hamstring and didn’t play.

 

ANOTHER STREAK SNAPPED: The Knicks had lost the previous six games to the Bulls going back two seasons ago. Mentally, it had to be good to get a win considering it’s possible these teams could meet in the first round as fourth and fifth seeds.

The Knicks return to action on Saturday against the Celtics.

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Comeback Thrwarted: Derrick Rose Game Winner Seals Knicks’ Fate

 

We competed tonight. It says a lot for our club. Now I just need to do a better job getting us through down the stretch. – Mike Woodson

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After being dead in the waterfor the most of the game, a Knicks 12-0 run in the fourth quarter allowed them to storm back for a two point lead. But several bad possessions and a missed free throw from Tyson Chandler gave the opening the Bulls needed, as Derrick Rose hit a tough floater to defeat the Knicks 82-81 in the Bulls home-opener.

It was tough loss to swallow, especially considering this is the fifth straight time the Bulls had defeated the Knicks. However, New York showed flashes on succint execution and had a mental toughness to them that was lacking from last year’s squad. Had this been last season, this game would have turned into a blowout in the third quarter, when the Bulls went up by as much as 13 points. Onto the game’s highlights.

FIRST HALF UGLINESS: We know the Bulls pride themselves on defense and that made for an ugly first half of basketball as New York was relegated to contested jumpers. There were repeated bad passes leading to Bulls fast breaks and stupid fouls. Andrea Bargnani, in the span of a few minutes, had 3 offensive fouls. Iman Shumpert also got in three fouls. 13 first half turnovers is normally a death knell, but the Bulls lack of offensive weapons allowed New York to remain close even with just 33 points in 24 minutes.

BARGNANI SHOWS LIFE: After having an abysmal first half, Bargnani came to life in the second hitting multiple jumpers. This was crucial in helping to spread the floor. If the Knicks hope to do any serious damage, Bargnani has to keep hitting those shots.

CHANDLER ON FIRE: Tyson Chandler had an excellent game with 7 points, 19 rebounds, and 4 blocks. He gave our team numerous chances late to pull away, but our offense failed his effort. If he can stay healthy and keep up this intensity, the team will be in good shape. Problem is, the man needs help down low, and Amar’e and Bargnani aren’t the answer.

Some have harped on the missed free throw, but I can’t disparage the man’s performance last night. That free throw was not the sole reason we lost the game — lack of offensive execution in the last two minutes is what did us in.

STAR SLUMP: Neither of the stars of this game, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, shot the ball particularly well. Melo went 8-24 (22 points) while Rose shot 7-23 (18 points). But with Rose, all that is forgiven in light on his game-winner. Melo said he got the look he wanted, but I’m not a fan of long jumpshots to win games. Yes, he can hit them (and has), but a quick drive and pull-up was a better percentage shot. Using Rose as an example, he was able to get close to the paint in the same amount of time for his shot. Of couse, Melo isn’t as quick, but he could have got to the to the free throw line at least.

COMEBACK AND LATE EXECUTION: With a little less than 8 minutes remaining, the Knicks were down 66-76. Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited a 12-0 run starting with a three-pointer. Felton hit a three, Melo connected with a short jumper, and a Shumpert offensive reobund and putback dunk put the Knicks in front.

From there it all went bad, as the Knicks offense degraded into Melo isolations. This wasn’t the plan, but Felton’s pick n’ roll attempts were turned back by Chicago as well as the screen attempts. Several possessions that could have given the Knicks breathing room ended with the ball being dumped to Carmelo with less than 8 seconds on the shot clock.

NO PANIC: The loss sucks, but help is coming. JR Smith has three games left on his suspension, and Hardaway Jr. is making a great case to keep up his playing time. The team has the weapons and I’m confident we’ll see a dynamic aquad by mid-season barring injuries.

[Video] Steve Novak’s Funny Message to Nate “Little Nathan” Robinson

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It was another bad loss last night to the Bulls, but Steve Novak gave Knicks fans something to smile about. As most know, Nate Robinson likes to run his mouth and in recent years seems to get off in beating his original NY team. After hitting a three-pointer last night, he mocked Novak’s Discount Double Check belt celebration. When asked about it after the game, Novak gave the below classic response. JR Smith is really rubbing off on our three-point specialist. I love it!

Techs Galore! Ejections and Bad Play Define Knicks Home Loss to Bulls 110-106

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It would be my luck that the first Knicks home game I attend this season be one of the team’s worst performances. To say the Knicks were out of sync would be an understatement — the shooting, defense and mental focus were all beyond horrific. And yet, the circus that was the fourth quarter made the game quite entertaining even when it became apparent that NY had dug a hole too big to climb out of.

 

The Bricks Just Kept Coming: The Knicks shooting in this game was painful. For most of the contest, the Knicks were shooting an embarrassing 33% from the field and under 25% from three-point range. The Bulls lived up to their league-leading defense but it wasn’t just that. The Knicks got many wide open shots and failed to convert. Our normally sharp-shooting Steve Novak was the worst in logging over 30 minutes and scoring 0 on just three shot attempts. We had three guys score over 20 with none of them being efficient getting there. Raymond Felton (21 points) was 9-21 and couldn’t nail a jumper to save his life. JR Smith (26 points) was 9-20 and Carmelo Anthony (29 points), who was repeatedly turned back  at the rim and frustrated, went 10-25 before being ejected.

Remember when Ronnie Brewer was money earlier this season with that corner three? Well he must have returned to Earth because he couldn’t buy a basket, going 0-4 and causing us fans to groan with every brick. To add insult to injury, he even bricked a free throw.

 

The Whining Returns: During the game, which had the lead at times ballooning over 20 points, the Knicks got more annoyed with every missed bucket and with the physical defense the Bulls were putting on them. At times they had a point — the Bulls were allowed to rough Melo up in the paint while any contact placed on Loul Deng on the opposite end resulted in an immediate foul call. Nonetheless, you have to adjust to the game and Knicks failed miserably doing that.

The defense was very shoddy in getting to the Bulls shooters and gave up plenty momentum-killing three-pointers. Despite all that, the team was still 19-7 coming into tonight and we in the crowd (well most of us) just couldn’t find it in ourselves to boo them.

Melo got tossed but not before getting a standing ovation. Woodson had seen enough and did everything could (including telling the ref “fuck you”) so get an early trip to the locker room, which was granted. By that point the tension was heavy. Chandler and Noah got tangled up and did a little shoving, resulting in both guys being tossed (Chandler on his first technical and Noah had a previous one for being mouthy with the refs). Noah’s post-game comments summed up our mind state during that testy second half.

I don’t think they are used to being down that much. If they were up 20 points, I don’t think they would have been that frustrated.

 

These Refs Suck!: That was the chant we took up last night and it was very appropriate. There were nine technicals in total (6 Knicks, 3 Bulls), resulting from neither team respecting the official calls. And the more technicals resulted in less and less respect from both squads. Several times during the game you could see the refs huddled up trying to figure out how to get matters back under control.

Melo’s second technical was especially suspect (all he did from my seat was stare at the official). The league agreed, as the second tech issued by Olandis Poole has been rescinded. Who knows what could have happened if he stayed in the game. Another ref, John Goble, has issued eight technicals on the Knicks this year, including tossing Rasheed Wallace for his “Ball Don’t Lie!” phrase. And just so Knicks fans can keep track of these guys for future reference, the last ref rounding out last night’s 3 Stooges trio is named Zach Zabra.

If any positive can come out of last night is that it appears the league is closely reviewing the refs and how their quick whistles exacerbated the problems from last night. Expect the Knicks to get some favorable calls on Sunday against the Wolves and hopefully none of these refs will be suited up.

And even with the disappointing Knicks performance, spending time with Mom made it all worthwhile.

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRde5_9b8Og]