Knicks' threes doom the Bulls

November, 4, 2010
11/04/10
11:39
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah got exactly what he wanted Thursday night.

When asked before the game how the Bulls could keep the Knicks from turning the contest into a track meet, the 25-year-old center answered the question as if he were being challenged.

"We want a track meet, too." he said confidently, as he buttoned up his warmups. "We're not scared of track meets. We can play that kind of style, too. We're pretty good at it."

Obviously, Noah and his teammates aren't as good at that kind of game as he thought.

The Knicks ran the Bulls up and down the floor and controlled the tempo from the outset. The Bulls looked frustrated throughout most of the night for many reasons, but mostly because they couldn't get the Knicks to slow down. Every time the Bulls crept closer, the Knicks would drain another 3-pointer and shut down any run that Tom Thibodeau's bunch was trying to make.

Let's take a closer look at a few of the biggest questions Bulls fans are sure to be asking after this contest:

The Bulls looked so dominant against the Blazers on Monday night. How did they follow that up by losing to ... the Knicks?:

First and foremost, you have to give New York credit. The Knicks controlled the pace and absolutely shot the heck out of the ball. Led by Toney Douglas, who had 30 points and repeatedly torched the Bulls defense, the Knicks shot 50 percent from the field and were 16-for-24 from behind the arc. Obviously, whenever a team shoots that well they're probably going to win.

"I don't think I've ever played against a team that shot that well from [the 3-point line] as a team" Bulls guard Kyle Korver said. "They shot the ball really well, but a lot of that was our fault, they had a lot of wide open 3s. Once we gave them a few of those and they hit them, they had their rhythm. That's what they do. I watched them on NBA TV, their little training camp [show] and all they did was shoot 3s. That's what they want to do. That can be a good thing, that can be a bad thing. That's their strength and we needed to take it away and we didn't."

Both Thibodeau and his players pointed to a lack of energy, at times, when explaining why the Knicks were able to have so much success from the field.

"The urgency has to be there to run them off that line," Thibodeau said. "They don't need much space or time to get it off and they're confident shooting it so ... I thought we allowed them to play to their strengths. You got to take something away and you've got to be willing to live with what you're going to live with and I thought we didn't take anything away. They had easy scoring opportunities, we didn't control the ball, we didn't close out to their shooters, our floor balance was bad in the first half and I thought a big part of that was because of what happened off or turnovers."

[+] EnlargeJoakim Noah
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireJoakim Noah and the Bulls got the track meet they wanted, but they didn't get the hoped-for results Thursday night.
The Bulls had 20 of those and undoubtedly played the sloppiest game of their young season. They came into the game having guarded the 3-point line very well through the few three games and then everything seemed to fall apart after Danilo Gallinari and his teammates dropped five treys in the first quarter. While the defense was bad, don't let the box score fool you. The Bulls may have scored 112 points and had five players in double digits, but the offense still looks shaky at times, especially when Derrick Rose is not on the floor.

Speaking of that ...

Why didn't Rose, Joakim Noah and the rest of the starters come back on the floor after the second unit cut the lead down to nine with five minutes left to play in the fourth quarter?

Mr. Thibodeau, the floor is yours:

"That group was playing pretty well," Thibodeau said of the second unit. "We had gone with the starters a little longer to start the second half. When we got down 15 is when I subbed them. The second unit, I thought, fought hard to close [the gap]. I wanted to see what they could get out of it. The way the Knicks' guards were shooting, I thought the energy to get out to the line was what we needed ... I thought about putting the starters back in but the second group was getting out to the 3-point line pretty well."

Surprisingly, the starters didn't seem that perturbed with Thibodeau's decision.

"You definitely want to be out there," Noah said. "I think Coach is definitely trying to make a point. And I think it's pretty clear that we have to come out with better energy and we can't let a team come out and score at will like that. It's the starters responsibility to do a better job defensively."

Luol Deng concurred.

"The group that came in did a better job than us," Deng admitted. "Coach had all the rights to keep them in. They got us back into the game."

Was Thibodeau trying to send the team a message?

"Whether it's a message or not, we know we didn't do the right thing," Deng continued. "It was clear out there we didn't play well. I thought the group that came in at the end played really hard and got us back into the game."

The last word: Noah, on the game and what it will take to recover Friday night against Boston:

"I think that it is definitely frustrating," Noah said. "It was a game we felt liked we should win at home. They shot the ball well and obviously we made a lot of mistakes. We've got to look at the bad things we did throughout the game and understand that we can't come out with a lack of energy to start the game. We've just got to get ready for [Friday]."


Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5