The New York Knicks had an opportunity to string together another victory against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday evening, but against a superior opponent, they were mostly stifled in what ended up being an incredibly competitive match-up. The Knicks had lost a few disappointing games in recent days, specifically against the Orlando Magic and barely scraping a win against the Houston Rockets on Friday, but a victory against a good team would’ve been a step in the right direction.
The Bulls currently set 12-5 on the season and have won six games at home, losing just two. The Knicks have had far more success playing away this season, but they were unable to overcome Chicago, despite a dominant performance from power forward Julius Randle.
Randle was incredible in the contest, posting 34 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and hitting 13-of-19 shots over 39 minutes. Randle only attempted two three-pointers. In fact, the entire starting team only attempted 11. Randle was the only starter to reach double-digit points, as RJ Barrett contributed 9, Evan Fournier 3, and Kemba Walker 7.
After a solid performance against Orlando where he shot 50% from three-point range and collected 19 points, Fournier posted three against Chicago, hitting 1-of-7 shots from the field and turning the ball over twice. Fournier‘s performance this year is seeming to be a massive disappointment after the front office gave him a four-year contract.
As a team, the Knicks totaled just 25.9% from deep and 41.7% from the field. They contributed 44 total rebounds, 32 defensive, and 12 offensive. They matched the Bulls in intensity, and Barrett surprisingly posted 15 rebounds on the evening. If the Knicks continue to post inconsistent three-point shooting, it will be incredibly difficult to beat quality teams. Chicago shot 37.9% from deep, and if Tom Thibodeau’s team would’ve matched that hit rate, they’d be walking away with a win.
Defensively, the Knicks were inconsistent, despite a dominant third-quarter that held the Bulls to just 21 points. They allowed three of Chicago’s starters to post double-digit points, including 31 from DeMar DeRozan and 21 from Zach LaVine, who missed all five of his three-point attempts.
Ultimately, an effective small ball strategy by the Bulls picked the Knicks apart, hitting several clutch shots down the stretch to give them an advantage. Once again, the game’s storyline is the starters for New York, who haven’t been playing well as of late. Julius was the only notable exception with his 34 points, but he can’t carry the load by himself.