Similar to that second meeting with the Knicks (also in MSG), the Bulls jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, leading by as many as 25 in the third quarter. In that second meeting, which took place on December 21st, the Bulls got a more balanced performance from their key players, with four of the five starters scoring 15 or more points. Luol Deng led the way with a then season high 29 points on 11-24 shooting. He also had a game high 13 rebounds.
Last night's game was a different story in that it was more singular effort, with only two Bulls players scoring 15 or more, Boozer at 17 and Deng with a new season high 33, 21 of which came in the first half. Unlike the last game, Deng only contributed 4 rebounds, but his 13-18 performance from the field echoed some of the best games of his career, like his 40 point on 19 shot effort against Portland in 2011.
Aside from the eerily familiar fourth quarter near-collapse, Carmelo Anthony was off in a way he wasn't during the late December meeting. Even though he scored 39 points last night compared to 29 the game before, his 14-32 shooting left a lot to be desired (although he only shot 10-25 in the December game). J.R. Smith, who scored 26 points in the December game (on 9-20 shooting), finished with only 13 points (on 4-17 shooting). It was this lack of scoring from their two main guys that doomed the Knicks in this game, unlike the second game, which say the Bulls maintain a massive rebounding advantage for the majority of the night (51-40).
There isn't a whole lot more to say about this game other than that the Bulls remain the perfect style of team to counter this Knicks squad, one that rebounds and contests and never acquiesces easy three point attempts. They don't play again until April, and by then, the makeup of the Bulls might be very different, indeed.
Player O' The Game: Luol Deng 33 points (13-18 FG, 3-5 3PT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block.
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