SHOWTIME BULLS LIGHT UP BROADWAY
After 2 days off the Bulls headed to New York to take on the Knicks at MSG. Bulls came in after a season high win against Hornets and sitting at 14-8, whilst the Knicks lost to the Nets and sit 11-10. Despite 2 days off it's been a busy couple of days news-wise for the Bulls, with the news that Coby White has entered health and safety protocols for Covid and Zach LaVine still battles his non-Covid related illness. But there was some good news a few hours before tip off as coach Billy Donovan was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month and finally getting this team some recognition!
Onto the game itself and the first quarter was an exciting quarter of basketball for the Bulls. Their best quarter of the season so far but it did start off struggling with Julius Randle's size but soon the defence took over and contained him. Taj Gibson was ejected around the 8 minute mark after 2 offensive fouls and a shout at the officials which got the MSG crowd going but fired the Bulls up. Vooch had his best start with 13 points, including a monster hammer dunk, and with LaVine locked in they both had the Bulls into an 11 point lead at this point.
Cue Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu who took over with some great passing and attacks to the rim helping the Bulls lead 37-19 at the end of the first quarter.
(Imagine having both of these guys right now)
Into the 2nd with a calm start by the Bulls causing them to get into some foul trouble early on in the quarter. DeMar DeRozan seemingly finding his way in after a quiet 1st. Knicks start getting in the bonus with over 6 minutes left tells you how the quarter continued. The foul trouble forced a few rotation problems for Billy Donovan as Caruso came back in sooner than expected whilst Troy Brown Jr was given some minutes as well but he delivered with 5 points in 6 minutes, both crucial buckets from him. Knicks didn't pick up their 1st foul of the quarter until about 9 minutes in and shows what a frustrating quarter it was for the Bulls but they finish the half up 69-51 having lead by 21 at one point. This is the second game in a row where Bulls finished the half with their season high 69 points. Would they be able to keep it up through the 2nd half?
The answer to that as the 3rd starts is NO! They looked like they stayed in the locker room at half time.
Knicks come out on fire and apart from a couple of 3's from the Bulls there is no answer for the Knicks hot start to the third quarter. 6 minutes in and the Knicks cut the lead to 3 after a 25-10 run which reignites the MSG crowd and that annoying organ player. The quarter is definitely going the Knicks way as it finishes Bulls 89- 83.
Bulls need a big fourth here to wrap it up but once again the Bulls got into foul trouble at the start of the 4th and DeMar DeRozan seems to be the only one scoring for Bulls early on. Things start getting nerve wracking as the Knicks tie the game at 97 with 8 minutes left. As time starts to seemingly vanish the mood becomes tense with Lonzo unable to hit a 3 but continues his all-star defense to keep this game close until the end. The Knicks retake the lead but only by a point at a time until 4th quarter King DeRozan comes through and helps see out the game with an 18 point 4th quarter performance for a total of 34 points in the game. Eventually the Bulls pull away again and take the W 119-115.
A great game to watch and the big 3 of LaVine, Vucevic and DeRozan getting it done with big games again.
The Bulls stay in New York for what promises to be a big game against the Nets tomorrow night. Let's hope they put that one away sooner rather than later.
-Matt H. (Twitter:@matthearn1)