Bulls allow Knicks to live in the paint in third straight loss

Bulls allow Knicks to live in the paint in third straight loss

NEW YORK—Only in New York where the unpronounceable turns into a chant, and seemingly only against the Bulls would it become a rallying cry, as the Bulls restored the Knicks' morale by donating more than a few uncontested dunks.

Whether it was scintillating drives from Derrick Rose or open lanes for Joakim Noah, the Bulls were in such a charitable mood at Madison Square Garden, they provided little resistance in a 104-89 loss Thursday night.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas strolled down the paint for easy dunks and backdoor layups, and the Bulls were more than happy to watch and help out a team mired in drama to go along with a 1-9 stretch.

Rose scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half against a shorthanded Bulls team that has a flu bug ravage its locker room with Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Denzel Valentine unavailable—Valentine arrived at the arena throwing up and was sent back to the team hotel.

Dwyane Wade tried to pick up the slack, scoring 22 in 33 minutes but clearly needed an anchor to lean on when there wasn't one to be found. A cold third quarter where the Bulls missed 16 of 20 shots, scoring 14 points, spelled doom in the long run.

"I like scoring, no question about that," Wade said. "But I understand certain guys need shots and I have to be a playmaker. You want to be comfortable in those spots that guys will make shots. It's frustrating. We got good shots, it just wasn't going in."

Rose and Carmelo Anthony (23 points, nine rebounds, six assists) picked apart the Bulls and cruised for most of the way, only exerting energy when the Bulls felt like putting a handful of possessions together to make the score appear interesting.

"A player is always gonna be amped to play against his former team," Wade said. "Jo has had two big games versus us. I'm can't say he's had two big games verus other teams so he definitely raised his level of play. For them, personally, I know it feels good."

Noah, who scored 12 with 15 rebounds, was catching and dunking inside and Kuzminskas, the reserve who was called "Koooo" by the home crowd, scored 19 points in 30 minutes off the bench.

"I give those guys credit," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "They both came out, Jo controlled the game on the glass, getting tip ins, got behind our defense, doing the things Jo does. A couple times we got completely off him and he drove right to the basket. We can't have those breakdowns if you want to win."

Both on the periphery of the Eastern Conference playoff race, both without their best all-around players as Kristaps Porzingis was out with a sore Achilles, it was easy to see why neither squad has put together enough consistency to be in the top eight of the East.

The Bulls were going to have to make it work with three performers on the Campbell's soup list, and looked every bit of shorthanded, at times lacking energy and mostly lacking effectiveness as they shot just 19 percent from the 3-point line and shot just 41 percent for the game.

Giving up 17 offensive rebounds and allowing some wide-open breakdowns for easy baskets made it look like the first week of training camp.

"Nope, we had a lot of young guys out there," said Wade when asked if he was surprised at the breakdowns. Continue to try to learn and practice to get better at those things, but I'm not surprised."

Rose had some moments where he probably made the Bulls feel sick, starting with an in-and-out dribble and finish with the left hand at the end of the first half, earning a 3-point play opportunity.

Paul Zipser made a surprise start in place of Doug McDermott, as Hoiberg wanted to come out with a different look and bring some length to the defensive end. He responded by running the floor for a couple layups and hitting a triple in the first half.

Aside from that and an early flash from Jerian Grant, there wasn't much positivity to be documented. Grant (14 points) made his first four shots in his return to New York, but struggled defensively, as did virtually every Bulls guard. 

McDermott's struggles continued, as he followed up his two for 11 performance against the Wizards with a scoreless 0-5 showing. 

"This game is a lot about confidence," Hoiberg said. "The big thing is getting him out there, putting him in position to hit shots. He's too good a shooter to stay in a slump like this. I'm confident he'll get out of it."

Rajon Rondo managed eight assists but there was hardly any flow to be had, as he and Michael Carter-Williams combined to shoot just three for 17 in 39 minutes, making it impossible for the space in Fred Hoiberg's "pace and space" system to work.

And it's clear, for this Bulls team to work, it needs Jimmy Butler because there's too many ills without him to be covered up with just Campbell's Soup.

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut


Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.