All good things must come to an end. After weeks of stellar play, the Knicks fell into some bad habits last night (cold shooting, bad perimeter defense) and had their 13-game win streak snapped by the Chicago Bulls, who seem to have had their number this season. Even with all our bigs out, Melo having his first off night of April, and having to start Chris Copeland at center, the Knicks were still within a jumper of winning this.
ALL IS WELL THROUGH 3 1/2 QUARTERS: The Knicks came out strong in the first quarter behind their three-point shooting and jumped out of a 23-6 lead. Copeland in particular was hot behind the arc. The Bulls went on an 10-0 run to get back in it, but the Knicks kept them around the five-point deficit mark through halftime (59-54).
In the third, Copeland heated up from three again and got a fourth foul call on Luol Deng, The Knicks went up by as much as 77-62 midway through the third and seemed to be on their way to a nice victory until two-plays started the slow downfall.
THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, PABLO!: Pablo Priginio threw two telegraphed passes that were picked off by Jimmy Butler for fast-break dunks. From there the momentum shifted completely to the Bulls. The Knicks guards of Kidd, Felton and Prigioni started losing Robinson badly on screens and gave up countless three-pointers. Next thing you know, the Bulls had gone on a 16-3 run to end the third and the Knicks were clinging to a 82-80 lead.
MELO NEARLY SAVES THE DAY: The Knicks picked the worst time in the fourth quarter to start bricking their shots. It wasn’t like it was all due to the Bulls defense either — guys like Kidd and Felton got wide-open shots out Melo and JR double teams. On the other hand, Nate Robinson continued his hot hand from the second quarter on and hit a three to extend the Bulls lead to 97-90. However, a 15-6 Knicks run tied it at 105 with the Knicks in possession with a little over a second left. Melo got a good look at a long jumper, but failed to convert.
The way the Knicks had been playing, this was their best shot to pull this out. The jumpers still weren’t falling in overtime and the refs swallowed their whistles (particularly Joey Crawford), who seemed to have a grudge against JR Smith for his complaining at the lack of calls inside. As a result, the Knicks were outscored 13-4 and ended up losing 118-111.
NOT WORRIED: We were due for a bad game and considering it was a nine-man rotation without our best defensive players (Martin, Chandler). And when you let Nate Robinson score 35 points off the bench, you’re giving yourself a hard time to win. This was the first time in a minute that Melo was forcing it (13-34, 36 points), but he really had no choice with the rest of the team outside of JR shooting so poorly.
Copeland had a good first half, but went 4-14 overall and couldn’t hit anything over the second half. And when Copeland isn’t scoring, you’re not getting anything but blown assignments on defense.
The Knicks get a chance tonight to start another little streak to end the season when they face the lowly Cavaliers. NY already holds two wins over the Cavs this season.