What a thriller from the funhouse mirror as the Knicks went into a serious revenge game scenario in Chicago and came away with an improbable, fantastical win!
I was down on this game in a big way after attending the James Harden smackdown in the Garden on Wednesday and seriously doubted the ‘Bockers were going to give the emotional, “rise-to-the-occasion” kind of performance they would need to pick up a W in the super-charged United Center. I’ve also been low-key shocked by how well the Bulls have been playing this year, with the growing suspicion that more than a small part of their success is due to an addition by subtraction factor with Rose and Butler. Chicago had had the league’s most efficient offense through three games, with New York giving up 110 points before their meltdown performance against the Rockets. This game scared the crap out of me.
Imagine my surprise when the Knicks put together by far their best game of the season, with Derrick Rose looking like a real-life point guard and the team FINALLYYY beginning to give Porzingis more looks on offense. Rose finished the game with 11 assists (one more than he’d totaled in the previous 4 games combined) to just 3 turnovers and hit the Chicago fans with some real nostalgia, diming up Joakim Noah time and time again in the pick and roll for monster dunks. Even more encouragingly, he made it a point to note how much his slashing collapses the defense and creates open shooters, helping to alleviate my biggest concern for the Knicks’ offense over the first four games, which was his do-or-die selfishness going to the basket. With Porzingis shooting a tasty 66% from the field, all of the Knicks’ starters finishing solidly in the black plus/minus-wise, and the team as a whole committing just 5 (!!!) turnovers on the game, there’s really not that much else to say. I was jumping out of my seat watching this one and by the time Rose and Noah left the court to some adorable brotherly shoving, I was almost ready to give up all the qualms I’ve had over adding these two to the team once and for all.
To be honest, though, this game could’ve swung even further in the Knicks’ favor were it not for the other new acquisition, Dwyane Wade going absolutely BONKERS! The 34 year old Hall of Famer continued to show off his old dog/new tricks 3 point shot, by going a nasty 5-7 on the game. Wade had talked about practicing the shot over the summer but I don’t think a single analyst (including this detractor) figured that was anything more than the usual “best shape of my life” vagaries you get during the offseason. If the Bulls weakness this year was going to be shooting, and Wade can continue scorching the nets like this (he finished with a game high 35 points), this could be a pretty dangerous playoff team come April. Butler may be their leader, and best player, but it never hurts to have a championship caliber veteran shot-maker in the locker room.
And, as for New York, we return to the Garden on Sunday for a hangover-matinee matchup against the Utah Jazz (who expect the return of their best player Gordon Hayward after fracturing his finger). I do try to avoid riding the rollercoaster that is Knicks fandom, and I know this was just one game and an excellent opportunity to jump to conclusions early in the season, but part of me thinks we’ve got some mojo heading into Sunday. Let’s protect this house.