If you stuck around for the fourth quarter, you saw things got really weird really fast.
Things that happened in the fourth quarter:
- Carmelo Anthony received his second of two technical fouls, resulting in his ejection.
- Tom Thibodeau received a technical foul.
- Mike Woodson received a pair of techs, resulting in his ejection.
- Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler had a confrontation after Noah was called for a loose ball foul. Both players were ejected.
- The Bulls led by as many as 25 and as few as 4.
- The Knicks scored 45 points.
- Luol Deng spent an extended stretch of time playing center, with Jimmy Butler as the nominal power forward.
- Taj Gibson attempted to play through his ankle injury before it was determined this was a Bad Idea.
So, you know. Little crazy.
Through three quarters, the Bulls were just smacking the Knicks around. Joakim Noah was doing his thing, with yet another double-double to go along with six assists. Luol Deng was playing great defense on Melo, and also scoring well. Kirk Hinrich was improbably looking good at his job and the Bulls were playing suffocating defense.
The fourth quarter was such a collection of screwiness that I honestly don't think you can even take anything at face value from it. Yes, the Knicks hung 45 on the Bulls, outscoring them by 18, but much of that came after Noah's ejection. And with Gibson hurt, the Bulls were without any big men who could even be charitably called "below-average" defensively. Hell, Thibs turned in desperation to Vladimir Radmonovic to play center for about 45 seconds before realizing that he was Vladimir Radmonovic.
It would seem that the Bulls are just a terrible matchup for the Knicks. They have the size to pound the Knicks on the boards and the defenders to stifle New York's perimeter attack. And this is without Derrick Rose. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but if the Bulls win their division and get the four seed, win their first round matchup and get the Knicks as the one seed in the second round…never mind. We're not going to do this now.
The only real concerns to come out of tonight are injury and suspension related. Taj was clearly not healthy and seems unlikely to play against the Atlanta Hawks tomorrow. Deng suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter tonight and may not play. Joakim Noah could conceivably be suspended for his scuffle with Chandler. If those three can't play tomorrow, the Bulls would be down to all of 8 players: Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler, Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, Marquis Teague, Nazr Mohammed and Vladimir Radmonovic. That's it.
In short, expect the Hawks to win handily tomorrow.
Deng was impressive, especially in coming back from his injury (#FredClearedHim), but Hinrich deserves credit for going all Hot Tub Kirk Machine on us and flashing his 2007 form with a near triple-double. He hit two threes in the first quarter and didn't trail off after that. This was his best game of the year and it wasn't close.
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