Bulls front court dominates Knicks

Bulls front court dominates Knicks

On paper, it looked like the Bulls would crush the Knicks. It looked like the Bulls front court would be way too much for the Knicks front court. And that's more or less exactly what happened

For about four minutes, the game was ugly. For about four minutes these Chicago Bulls looked like the hapless offensive Bulls we've seen for the past two seasons. Pau Gasol looked old, slow, and scary bad.

After four minutes it was 2-8. Not a big deal, but enough to be collectively groaning. The Bulls called time out and collected themselves. The Bulls played the knicks pretty evenly for the next five minutes. Then the benches came in.

The Bulls finished the quarter with a 13 to four run led by Taj Gibson and Aaron Brooks coming off the bench. That lead would swell to 10 by the half, and the Bulls put the Knicks away in the third as the lead grew to 20.

New York never made anything even remotely resembling a run after those opening minutes as Chicago defended strong and scored efficiently, especially in the paint, all night long.

Derrick Rose scared the hell out of everyone

On one play he was juked by Shane Larkin and went down. His leg seemed to bend at an awkward angle as he fell. My heart jumped, but Rose popped back up. He popped up with what appeared to be a limp, but then stayed in the game and was fine.

Larkin seemed to have little problem driving around Rose and finding room. His lateral quickness looked a little questionable on defense for much of the night.

However, Derrick looked very solid on offense. He drained a couple of pull-up mid range jumpers from just inside the free throw line, something we haven't seen much of from Rose in preseason or FIBA play.

Rose looked to aggressively push the ball on offense for his minutes, always pushing the pace hard. He drew fouls in the paint four times for eight free throws as well as hit a layup. He had five assists and a few more opportunities for bunnies blown by teammates.

The only downside to Rose's night on offense was an 0-3 performance from the three point line, but he was 3-4 inside the arc with a couple mid range jumpers and plenty of drawn fouls, so the night was certainly a success overall.

Granted, the Knicks had no one great to help inside or defend him on the perimeter, so tougher matchups are coming, but it was a good start, and Rose's mid range jumpers in the mid 3rd was what really broke the Knicks back swelling the lead from the 10-12 points it was oscillating around to up to the 14-15 point range before things completely broke open.

Taj Gibson dominated

Gibson showed the Bulls can run an offense through him. He dominated as the focal point of the Bulls bench. He added points off of offensive rebounds and kickouts. He hit jumpers in guys faces, he backed them down in the post.

Gibson just looked like a beast offensively.

He was 10 of 12 from the field for 22 points and didn't just look like a starting caliber PF. He looked like an all-star starting caliber PF.

Pau Gasol quietly beasted

He started off 0-2, looked slow and lousy. He got the benefit of the doubt call on to finish an and one over Samuel Dalembart and never looked back. By the end of the night, the Bulls hasn't run much offense through Gasol, but he still finished with 21 points on 7/11 shooting.

The main thing Pau managed to do that Carlos Boozer couldn't was simply be big and finish easy shots. Pau managed to really play in the paint, finish short shots when open, grab some offensive boards and finish, and force guys to foul him.

It will get much tougher in future days, but he put 21 points without the Bulls even looking for him so much on offense.

Rookies both contributed

Doug McDermott continues to impress me with the strong effort on the glass. He put a lot of effort into his defense as well. J.R. Smith hit a couple of step back isolation twos over him, but they were the type of shots you hope the opponent takes, a well defended, 20 footer.

On offense he looked pretty smooth scoring 12 points on nine shots and doing much of his damage inside the arc and not looking simply like a Kyle Korver type player.

Nikola Mirotic only took a couple threes, but he knocked down one of them, and it was encouraging to see him get on to the floor for 15 minutes. Much like McDermott, I was pleased by his defense. He used his length well to deny the ball and played tough.

Congratulations Tom Thibodeau

Mike Dunleavy was the only guy to play over 30 minutes (31). Derrick Rose played 21 while Joakim Noah played only 20. It's not that I'm that concerned about keeping their minutes that low, it's that with a 20 point lead there was no reason to bring these guys back in the fourth.

So he didn't.

That's been something we haven't necessarily seen much of from Thibs in the past. Fans are obviously most concerned with Noah and Rose's health this year, so it's nice to see that the Bulls are willing to get these guys some rest in smart situations even in the opener.

He also played a wide rotation. The next biggest concern with fans was that McDermott and Mirotic would not play much. However, Doug played 24 minutes and Mirotic got run in the second quarter prior to the game being a blow out.

It looks like Chicago will find a way to get these guys on the floor and that's important for the development of the roster and for Chicago to be as good as possible by the end of this season.

Aaron Brooks was a stud

Aaron Brooks was hyped as the next Nate Robinson, D.J. Augustin, or John Lucas. His preseason performance wasn't living up to the billing as he looked extremely selfish and couldn't hit shots.

Much like Gasol, who struggled in preseason but dominated in game one, Brooks scored 13 on four of five shooting and added four free throws. His quick five points coming off the bench ignited the Bulls offense and started what eventually would turn into a rout.

Brooks was able to get into the paint at will and was dropping layups all over the Knicks defense. If he can continue to play this well then the Bulls will be quite happy with the signing.

Joakim Noah looked back defensively

Joakim Noah's role on offense was diminished, as we'd expect, but he looked over his injury on defense where he had three blocks and played very strong in his limited minutes.

It will still be a work in progress to see how the Bulls can take advantage of Noah's strengths, but he's such an unselfish player that fewer touches don't seem likely to cause any type of issue with Noah.

Jimmy Butler out 2-4 weeks

Butler won't play for awhile as he's recovering from the sprained thumb. The two to four week diagnosis seems like a fairly cautious approach to Butler, and that's the right attitude for Chicago to have.

The Bulls didn't miss Butler last night where Carmelo Anthony was held to just 14 points on 13 attempts. LeBron James will likely do more damage to the Bulls tonight, but after that, the Bulls will have a relatively soft schedule.

Either way, the Bulls should give Butler all the time he needs to come back and stay healthy.

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  • Great game and nice to see the whole roster minus Nazr get some time on the court in this blowout win to start the season and make Melo regret not signing with us this offseason!
    Doug McD is more than a spot up shooter...he brings great intensity and at times attacks the basket like Mirotic so seeing those 2 not just stand still and demand the ball...they are playing some good D, and being multi dimentional threats. Hope McD starts soon, we need Mike and Kirk's vet leadership off the bench bad! Too many rookies (McD, Mirotic, and Snell is basicly a rookie) in the 2nd unit together

  • In reply to smiley:

    The Knicks have no shot this year, I think Melo already knew that. The question is whether they'll have a shot next year when they'll have cap room.

    Can Phil Jackson make anything happen for NY?

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    There is a good chance that 2015 is a dud year for free agents and many of the teams looking to make a splash have to wait(roll over their money) for 2016 which could be the wildest free agency ever is the new TV money kicks in all at once. Not really sure that the Bulls can do anything to get in on that action, but they should be thinking about it. I guess what happens in the next 36 hrs could seal our free agent fate for a while.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Supposedly Phil is all in for Mark Gasol next summer, it will be interesting to see if he bails on Memphis, the Gasols are different kind of dudes, so who knows what makes him tick.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The thing is Doug, even if Melo is looking at having a shot next year; the chances they contend during his tenure are unlikely to improve much at all; and he's getting bad advice if he thinks 50 million in cap space is a life saver. Durant, a player who's location has hardly diminished his marketing value(I'd argue playing in OKC has actually helped his marketing value), is unlikely to bolt for NY. I think its between OKC and Washington for Durant; why would he go to NY? If you think there was some frustration with him and Westbrook splitting shot opportunities, wow, imagine him and Melo. Copious amounts of cap space has helped teams to great success, ie Boston and Miami. In both cases there was an established superstar in place(Pierce/Wade), which you'd think would bode well as the Knicks have Melo. However, there are also plenty of examples of large cap space going wrong; I'm sure NYK fans don't need me to tell them that. Unless you can pull off a miracle; 40, 50, 60 million in cap space is NOT where you want to be. Much better to have 10-30 million and a pool of young talent; you need a few guys like Snell, McDerm, Nikola, etc; they are relatively cheap, and while they likely wont all pan out, you increase the likelihood of landing a good value performer with each young semi-promising draft pick. The Knick's cap space in the near future isn't the jumping board people seem to think it is, and it could be even further devalued with the massive increase in the cap numbers seeming inevitable. Sports fans love free agency, its exciting, the grass is greener, blah blah. But really, the extra cap dollars NBA teams will have to throw around will be best served resigning talent you drafted and grew; than going out and grabbing a guy you'll almost certainly be overpaying for. In the NBA, there are a handful of players, maybe 10, who if they hit FA today, would deserve the max amount of money teams would be willing to pay. So the only really good FA signings to be had, aside from the truly elite, are undervalued players(incredibly hard to find in today's NBA analytical boom), as well as the only two types of players that EVER sign for less than the max they can get in the open market. The first of these being home grown guys you drafted; they aren't going to take a massive cut, it is after all their first big pay day opportunity, but in general, a good portion of players will sign for at least a bit less than they'd get from say the Nets(or insert any ignorant spending bottom feeder). The second type of discount FA is the savvy veteran, the guy who has built his fortune, who has played in every NBA arena a dozen times; the guy who is looking for quality over quantity, guys like Pau Gasol. The Knicks might get better in the coming years, they might also get worse; but I can guarantee you they won't be contenders outside of the incredibly long shot scenario in which they land Durant. FA is fools gold, and Carmelo Anthony better enjoy all 120 million dollars of it because a trophy is not in his future.

  • Taj should definitely finish games, it was nice to see him pass up the open jumper for a Gasol dunk. A shame that Butler is out for the Cavs game, that's a killer matchup.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    If Taj finishes, who sits? Pau?

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I think you decide who finishes each game to be honest. I think you just play the two best bigs down the stretch.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I think that Thibs will play Noah and Taj for most of the 4rth and then "finish" with Gasol in the last few minutes just to pacify him, with Noah and Taj mixing and matching from game to game depending on the situation.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    If you go by what you have seen against the Wizards last season, preseason and the first game then Taj should finish games. He is now playing both ends of the floor great.

    Noah could probably sit until he gets his legs back.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    Yeah, Bulls will have a really tough time containing LeBron without Butler. Rose struggled to contain Larkin which means Irving is also likely to have a field day.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    In the Bulls defensive system Rose's D should not be an issue. Irving certainly did not have a field day in that preseason game. Anyway what guards play defense now, Rose is easily an above average defender.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I'm guessing that Larkin is much quicker than Irving, since he is one of those miniature waterbug types.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I'm not so sure Doug, for some reason Rose seems to turn into a borderline good defender when the Bulls play an opposing all star caliber point guard, I know that was 3 years ago. But when the Bulls played the Cavs a week ago I saw it again. He played Kyrie well, and while Kyrie dropped around 30 points, almost all of them were against 2nd/3rd unit competition. I don't look for Rose to all of a sudden play like a top 5 defender at his position; but don't be shocked when his best defensive games correlate to matchups with star PG lead teams like the LA Clips, Cavs, Wiz, etc.

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    Did the NYK know there was a game going on? Maybe they were still in practice mode, running the Triangle offense and forgot there was a 24 sec clock, and fans in the stands expecting to see a real game.

    Good play by Taj, Pau, Brooks, and The Rooks.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Yeah, the Knicks looked pretty ugly out there. I think they really missed Calderon, but beyond that, I expect the Knicks to be simply awful anyway.

  • Game 1 overreaction take 1! Gasol unlike preseason, looked like a quality big. We'll see if he can keep this up against quality big defenders which the Knicks are nada, but the guy looked damn good IMO including nice hooks and post put backs. Not to mention that winning attitude, passing etc. I don't care what people say about soft, I see some fire from this guy

    Please for the love of god someone come up with a better nickname then the college moniker Dougie McBuckets. That said, overreaction #2 the guy looked like a player. The kind of player who the more minutes he plays, the more he looks like a starter and maybe better performing immersing himself in the game then coming off the bench. Dunleavy has looked like crap, and I would be very pleased to see MCD get the start in Butler's absence.

    Mirotic looks like he has the in game quickness and awareness that could spell legit NBA player. I just hope they find ways to get him the ball mid post as I think he can be effective from that spot, and also give him comfort in the game to then feel more vested and successful hitting those threes.

    When you add two, from all appearances character looking guys in McD and Nik who also appear to have some game, I think that's a major infusion of energy to ignite this veteran and at times stagnant somewhat Bulls team.

    Finally, aside from Rose looking very good IMO, Aaron Brooks who looked like a selfish player deluxe preseason, if he can dish the ball like that on drives and pick and roll(and can threes) then he becomes a very effective player and could be better then Nate in overall impact and that's saying something as I think many people viewed Nate as a good player for the Chicago Bulls who does not get enough credit in certain quarters mainly the snobby mainstream Chicago media.

    Yes, overreactions ahoy! Maybe the Cleveland game will dispel some of these delusions of grandeur, but right now I feel pretty good about where this Bulls team could be headed. And even Thibsy wasn't bad. he keeps this up, and I'm dropping the y.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Of course I forgot to mention Taj was a BEAST!

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Brooks looks like another FA coup for the Bulls. Fast, layups thru traffic, hits 3s, and led the team in assists last night! Not too bad for a guy on the cheap. It appears he has been coached up and has paid attention.

    Either the FO is consistently lucky with their off-season pickups at G, or else they have someone who is a really good scout. Maybe they can do the same with a SF?

    Smart, smart playing M and M solid minutes. Is it possiible that Thibs has gotten wiser? Well, it is only one game.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I think the Bulls offense is designed to maximize point guard potential. It was built to take advantage of Derrick Rose so fitting in a guy who's fast and can break down guys off the dribble works well even with lesser players.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Told you guys not to over react to Brooks in the preseason, that just like those that came before him, we would like him better as the season progressed. Last night he was more DJ than Nate which was not the case in the preseason.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Apparently Isaiah Thomas has nicknamed McDermott "The Flamethrower" which might work well with Stacey's "give me the hot sauce" line. Thomas also thinks that McKorver is a sleeper pick for rookie of the year. Don't know if it is typical boiler plate stuff, but McKorver is getting a lot of love from the national TV analysts.

    Also, wouldn't dismiss Gasol's performance totally out of hand, Dalebert is certainly better than Nada, he was his usual active self last night, even if he is not the most skilled guy. In fact, he's a guy that I've always wanted the Bulls to get filling the Nazr role as Noah's backup. However, he sees himself as a starter, and is a bit of a headcase so he doesn't really fit the Bulls MO.

    Cleveland will certainly but the ka(i)bosh on any over reactions to the performance against the Knicks.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Maybe McFlamethrower if he actually starts shooting threes like the real Kyle Korver(6-7)last night.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    "I just hope they find ways to get him the ball mid post as I think he can be effective from that spot, and also give him comfort in the game to then feel more vested and successful hitting those threes."

    RW, that's probably the best Bulls thought I've heard in days; I've always thought in order to maximize the potential of a 3 point ace you need to get him involved in other facets. Make him know that he isn't just a run run pop repeat player, make him feel like a basketball player and he'll be more invested(as you say) and in rhythm for those big threes that really can push a team through the playoffs.

  • I was impressed, though the Knicks defense is terrible.

    Derrick was just destroying the Knicks in transition. They didn't have an answer for him. That's the Derrick Rose we know.

    Was surprised to see Brooks out there so early in the game but pleasantly surprised by how well he played. He looked like he's been in this offense a while. Looked like Kirk was mostly playing as the 2 with Jimmy out, so Brooks slid into Kirk's role as primary backup 1.

    Was also pleasantly surprised to see McDermott get so much time and impressed with his play. Not only did he knock down threes as we knew he would, but he took the ball to the hoop past several players and had a nice finish. Again, it was against an awful defense, but I've never once see Korver do that. I don't know if he'll be the star some hope he will be, but he can definitely play in the NBA.

    Noah looked out of sorts to me on offense, but I didn't mind seeing him in the defensive setup, chasing guys around a bit while Pau just sort of hung around under the basket. Noah chases guys well and Pau can stand around under the basket just as well as he can.

    Tony Snell sucks. He hit a three but looked god awful on his other attempt. He does not have a future in the NBA.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Thibs also had McKorver play more at SG last night, which we didn't see much of in the preseason. He will fare much better their as he will be a big 2 vs being a small 3, even if he is under athletic at either position.

  • In the preseason , I was getting worried that the bench was over hyped and would be a big let down. Not worried anymore! Now, I don't expect them to play that well every night, but I think that the bench alone would have won that game by 10. If Brooks plays like that all the time, Hinrich won't see any PG minutes.

    One more thing. Tony Snell's play last night proves to me that he has the talent to be in this league. It is all mental, in my opinion, whether he makes it or not.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Maybe we were watching different Tony Snell's last night. He had the one open drive for a dunk, but outside of that he didn't do much.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Come on he airballed at least one of his 3's, that's an NBA talent, right

  • Gasol was ok. Brutal early on, fumbling passes, missing easy shots, etc... The good news is that he somehow got his points and I didn't even notice. That's a good thing.

    Taj picking up where he left off last season. Awesome.

    Knicks = terrible. Melo should be frustrated as hell and I love it. Over-under for wins should be around 18 for this Knicks team. What a disaster this will be.

    Love Thibs not putting Rose back into the game with 10 minutes left and up 30. I was fully expecting it and it never happened. And, the bench guys played a ton!

    Would love to see Dunleavy play less. Like, not at all. Credit for his D, but he adds nothing offensively. I think Melo's poor night was more of a function of the Triangle's early awkward stages mixed with the poor personnel that they have for that offense.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Agree with pretty much everything, especially the thing about Gasol.

    Only thing I'd pick at a bit is Dunleavy. He missed his shots, but I thought he passed well. A couple of his assists were really nice passes that set up wide open lay ups.

    I don't think the shooting thing was normal for him, so I thought he did a good job in other facets of the game. That said, 31 minutes was too many, but I wouldn't go so far to say "not at all".

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Dunleavy has had quite a few good shooting games. This was a great time for him to be off, because most everyone else was on. He will win some games for the Bulls.

    However, I do agree that sooner or later McD will start in his place.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I was very surprised that Melo didn't go off on Dunleavy, but that clearly seemed to be a function of him attempting to be faithful to the triangle offense. I wonder how long it will be before Melo says to hell with it and goes back to Meloball.

  • I hope the Bulls crush the Knicks every time this year. And, that the Knicks start out about 0-10 while the Bulls start out 10-0 or something close to it. Melo needs to think about his decision to stick with a terrible team while he only has 1-2 more "prime" years left. It's like an unmarried chick that's 35 years old... time is ticking and his career is almost over.

  • In reply to Granby:

    The Knicks had to have sold Melo on a multi-year plan, they cleared a bunch of cap room and are simply awful right now. I don't think they'll get any better, but I think Melo knew this was a rebuilding year when he signed.

    Melo is 30 and a half right now, so I think he's probably got the next three seasons. He knows that this one was wasted before it started. I don't see what the Knicks can do over three years to be honest.

    I think Melo choose the money / environment he wanted. I think he really wanted to be in New York and not Chicago for all of the non basketball reasons. He forced his way to New York before and loves it there. I think it was only the question that the Knicks might not super max him and wanted him to sign for a hefty discount that really spurred him on to truly consider other places.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I mostly agree with you on Melo's motives, however, it would have been very interesting to see what would have happened had the Knicks not handed the reigns to Phil Jackson. I think Melo would have left.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Better watch out, from what I can tell Chicago Now has a lot of feminazi's on patrol. That remark might get you castrated. There is no refuge, even on a sports blog that has only male members. Boys being boys cannot be tolerated anymore, in the never ending struggle to stop the "war on women", or is it a Jihad against women.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Gal qaeda haha

  • I love that Stephen A Smith was so sad of watching his Knicks get their a** kicked in the Garden.

    I bet somewhere in the 2nd quarter, Carmelo was thinking he signed with the wrong team.

  • I think we all knew that the only way Phil could fix the Knicks was to clear out cap space for next summer and tank the hell out of this season, which was the reason many of us thought that Melo would leave instead of throwing away a season when he doesn't have that many left.

    Don't be surprised when Melo misses half the season with very minor injuries, there is no reason for him to single-handedly win them any games this season. Take the top-5 pick and your cap space and make the playoffs in 2015-16, in the summer of 2016 the salary cap is going to take a huge jump with the new TV deal.

  • The other scary moment for Rose was when he got that bogus offensive foul call going up against Amare, who was clearly moving and leaned into Rose while Rose was still in the air. He tumbled pretty hard but bounced right up like nothing much happened, other than being pissed at the call. Things like that and the play Doug mentioned certainly give us confidence that he is really all the way back physically.

    Rose had problems staying in front of Shane Larkin, but surprisingly Brooks didn't. Maybe it is just a size thing. Brooks looked great last night, exactly what we needed, especially considering the other option is watching an offense run by Hangdog.

    Looks like Thibs, despite what he says, is going to go with a ten man rotation. He played 10 guys last night, even before garbage time and that was with Butler out. Hopefully, when Butler returns he still plays ten with Snell dropping out into the Bairstow bin.

    Have to say that it is not that exciting watching a team that starts Hangdog and Dunleavy, and a 3rd unathletic white guy(Gasol) to boot. Hard to believe that a team with those guys starting can really compete for a title. Obviously Hangdog is only in there because of injury, and maybe by the playoffs McKorver is starting instead of Dunleavy. By the way nothing wrong with being just another Korver, who was 6-7 from 3 last night.

    Wasn't that the ugliest 21 & 11 that any Bull has ever put up last night by Gasol. As I said, even when he plays well, he doesn't look all that great in doing so.

  • Game 1 Observations:

    1--Knicks are a bottom teir club.., unless Calderon is a wizard.

    2--Bulls came out sluggish, again. Saw enough of that last year.

    3--Thibs minutes' distribution good. Didn't throw starters back into 4th Q either. (Let's watch this as season goes on.)

    4--McD and Niko really hustling on "D". Hopefully to show team and Thibs they will hustle to earn minutes.

    5--Rose isn't the only player trying to shed rust..,Noah surely didn't look 100%.

    6--Taj good start encouraging as he anchors 2nd team.


  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Agree with all of that except that Noah looked quite good defensively to me. A bunch of solo blocks on guys.

  • Knicks destroy the Cavs after their loss to the Bulls. Tonight should be very exciting.

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