The Bulls took on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in a matchup of teams set to have top-four odds in the 2019 NBA Draft lottery. In a game that most expected to close--ESPN had the line for the game listed as Bulls +3.5--the Bulls went down 37-19 after one quarter, and the Knicks never looked back.
New York’s largest lead of the night was 28 points and the deflating loss drops Chicago’s record to 21-57 on the season. But there were still some solid takeaways from the Bulls 113-105 loss to the Knicks, specifically for the young players on the floor for Chicago, who are actively fighting for spots in the league.
JaKarr Sampson’s career night shows off how he could be an intriguing depth option at PF/C
JaKarr Sampson had a solid year for the Windy City Bulls, putting up 21.1 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.0 APG on 54 percent shooting. During his stints in the NBA, Sampson was a solid finisher in the paint, but little else. Per Cleaning the Glass, he has always shot 59 percent or better at the rim and also made sure that the majority of his shot attempts are in the restricted area. There is something to be said about playing to your strengths and Sampson definitely does that.
Against the Knicks on Monday, Sampson did his damage in the paint, finishing with 22 points on 80 percent shooting from the field.
JaKarr Sampson has tied his career high with 22 points.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) April 2, 2019
And though level of competition obviously has to be factored in, his outing was encouraging because he got the free throw line six times as well, playing physical with a Knicks frontline that was thin on athleticism outside of rookie Mitchell Robinson.
Sampson’s big third quarter dunk on Knicks forward Luke Kornet got the Bulls bench hype and was a perfect encapsulation of the ability he has as a rim runner, especially in transition. He is not much a 3PT shooter, which makes him a bit of a “tweener” in today’s league.
The Madison Square Garden rims were kind to Sampson, who hit one of his two 3PT shots on Monday night. If he could bring his 3PT shooting to anywhere near NBA average levels, he could easily stick in an NBA rotation. Monday night was a step in the right direction for Sampson’s NBA stock.
Robin Lopez plays big on his birthday
April 1 is April Fool’s Day, but more important, it is the birthday of Bulls center Robin Lopez, who turned 31 on Monday. And RoLo made sure not to disappoint on his big day.
Lopez ended the night with 29 points, one shy of his career-high. RoLo received plenty of looks in the low post--as he has post All-Star break--and cashed in, converting on 11/18 from the field.
He showcased plenty of nifty footwork on the night and made rookie Mitchell Robinson looks silly on multiple occasions.
Robin Lopez has 10 already - all were inside the paint so far 👀 pic.twitter.com/x8IMGB2fo1— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 2, 2019
All in all, it was another great night for the hard-working veteran big man. And on a day where he was curiously left off the list of candidates for the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, it was fitting that RoLo turned in one of his best performances of the season.
Ryan Arcidiacono: Always under control
Arcidiacono has put in more work this season than any basketball pundit expected coming into the year. He is one of the top three Bulls players in terms on minutes played this season and has been solid throughout, with his decision-making shining as his best attribute.
On the season, “Arci” has a sparkling 4.31 assist-to-turnover ratio that not only leads the Bulls, but is head and shoulders above anyone else on the team. His skill as a pick-and-roll ball handler creates open lanes to the basket, but the Bulls simply don’t have the rim-running bigs needed to leverage this skill often.
In Monday’s loss in New York, Arcidiacono ended the evening with 14 points, 2 assists, a rebound and in classic Arcidiacono fashion, zero turnovers.
Arcidiacono has played well enough this season to be considered as a backup PG next year, even with Kris Dunn and other possible additions in the backcourt over the offseason.