The Bulls Monday didn’t much enjoy their evening in Fun City. It was a mostly somnambulant Bulls in the City that Never Sleeps as the Knicks defeated the Bulls 110-92.
It was for the Bulls an awry sandwich piled up with missed shots, the Bulls three of 30 on three pointers and shooting 36 percent overall. The Knicks after a slow start for both teams closed the second quarter with an 11-0 run to take a 10-point halftime lead. The Knicks then extended their lead to 20 late in the third quarter and led by double digits throughout the fourth quarter.
The Bulls fell to 24-46 and were officially eliminated from the playoffs. The Knicks stayed ahead of the Bulls at 26-45.
The Bulls got a career high 17 points from Cristiano Felicio, the only Bulls starter to score in double figures. Bobby Portis and Antonio Blakeney both had 16 points, which for Blakeney equalled a career high. The Bulls got 56 of their 92 points from the bench.
Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine didn’t make the trip to New York with injuries, Markkanen with back problems, Dunn with a sprained toe and LaVine with knee tendinitis. Dunn was reported to have a setback and is in a walking boot. All three are listed as day-to-day. So the Bulls started Cameron Payne, Justin Hoiday, Denzel Valentine, Paul Zipser and Felicio. Robin Lopez was active in uniform, but he did not play. Noah Vonleh traveled with the team despite being listed as questionable. He played in the first quarter, which wasn’t particularly appealing or artistic for each team, the Knicks with a 19-18 lead after one quarter.
Both teams shot poorly and were sloppy with the ball, the teams with five turnovers each, most enforced. The Bulls shot seven for 21 and zero for eight on threes and overall were the more accurate team. The Knicks, 0-3 against the Bulls this season coming in, shot 29.6 percent in the first quarter. Justin Holiday and Denzel Valentine, the latter after his career scoring game, were a combined zero for nine in the quarter for the Bulls and zero for six on threes. Both were scoreless in a combined 17 minutes. A Vonleh dunk was the highlight of a desultory second quarter for the Bulls in which they went the last five minutes without a point and trailed 47-37 at halftime. Vonleh had the play of the game with a driving slam dunk from the left wing after he’d made a three on the previous possession. That gave the Bulls a 29-27 lead with about eight minutes left in there half. But other than Bobby Portis with 14 first half points on six of 10 shooting mostly inside, the rest of the Bulls were nine for 38. The starters scored a combined 10 points in 62 minutes played among the five and four of 22 shooting. The Bulls were two of 20 on threes in the half. Michael Beasley had 14 for the Knicks in the first half. Former Bull Joakim Noah remained away from the team for disciplinary reasons.
Felicio opened the second half with his best sequence since he’s been with the team. Felicio scored the Bulls first 11 points of the third quarter, but not with his more typical pick and rolls to the basket. Felicio unveiling a never-before-seen series of moves with a rolling hook shot reminiscent of the play of Tommy Heinsohn, a post up for a bank shot and a driving score. That run enabled the Bulls to get within 56-52 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter as Valentine followed with a pair of scores. But the Knicks then broke open the game behind the shooting of Tim Hardaway Jr. with 17 third quarter points and three of six threes. The Bulls still were two of 22 on threes after three quarters for 9.1 percent and the starting backcourt of Holiday and Payne shooting two of 16. The Knicks led 83-67 after three quarters. The Bulls gave the Knicks a scare with Blakeney scoring 10 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter culminated by a flagrant foul from Kyle O’Quinn on a Blakeney fast break drive. That enabled the Bulls to get within 93-83 and with the ball shooting for single digits. But Felicio, Blakeney and Vonleh missed forced jump shots and the Knicks moved back ahead 97-83 with 5:21 left in the game.