Green delivers as Bulls take down Knicks
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Green delivers as Bulls take down Knicks

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO — Now that the Chicago Bulls (37-40) have officially clinched a play-in berth, this is the point during the regular season when they look to iron out the kinks for the stretch run. Unfortunately for them, it has been a season of kinks, as the constant rash of injuries and inconsistent play have seen the Bulls underachieve for a second straight season.

The same can't be said about the New York Knicks (45-32), who have put together one of their best seasons in quite some time to surge toward the middle of the Eastern Conference standings. Unfortunately for them, the injury bug has bitten them at the wrong time, including Julius Randle, who will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.

Hoping to get back on track and put together a nice finishing kick to end the season, an old friend stepped up when they needed him the most as Javonte Green and his season-high 25 points were enough to lift the Bulls to the 108-100 victory. Green was signed to a 10-day contract last week, and after three reasonable efforts, the Bulls rewarded him with a deal for the remainder of the season. He then rewarded them with a massive game to help them pick up this victory.

When you look at the final score, you get the impression that this was a back-and-forth game. That was far from the truth, especially early on, as the Bulls played arguably their best first half of basketball this season. That all started with a 29-17 first quarter in which Ayo Dosunmu came out on fire to score 14 points and nearly outscored the entire Knicks team himself in that first quarter. Dosunmu scored 24 points overall, as the Knicks did a great job locking him up the rest of the way.

It was in the second quarter when Green started to take over, as he gave the Bulls a massive lift from the bench. Green had 11 points in that second quarter, while his efficient shooting helped the Bulls extend an already big lead and turn it into a 61-45 halftime lead. Once the second half got underway, it was the Knicks who came out with a different mindset as they took it to Chicago in the third quarter.

Whether from behind the arc or on the interior, the Knicks could do no wrong in that third and outscored the Bulls 31-20 to pull within five entering the fourth. New York continued to keep things close throughout the fourth, but without Randle and several other pieces, the Knicks didn't have enough in the tank to complete the comeback.

As mentioned, Green (25 points) and Dosunmu (24 points) were the big two offensively, but don't forget about Demar DeRozan, who continued to do his thing. Although not as efficient as the other two, DeRozan still had a great game, finishing with 20 points and 10 assists for another double-double.

Speaking of double-doubles, Nikola Vucevic returned to doing what he does best after a two-week stretch that saw him struggle. Vucevic struggled overall when it came to shooting, but he still managed to finish with 16 points while adding 13 boards. He was the final double-digit scorer among the starters, as Coby White had a season-low two points, with Alex Caruso adding seven. Thankfully, Andre Drummond came through with a massive 10-point, 16 rebounds showing off the bench to pick up some of the slack and help the Bulls win.

With Randle on the shelf for the remainder of the season, the pressure falls on Jalen Brunson to do more than he has already done this season. Brunson has been having the best season of his career by far, and with 35 points and 11 assists, he was the engine that made the Knicks go, doing his best to keep things close.

Brunson was the lone New York player with over 20 points, but they still had three others in double figures to give the Knicks plenty of options. Unfortunately for the Knicks, OG Anunoby (12 points) and Isaiah Hartensten (10 points) only a little production came from the starting five.

Miles McBride did provide a boost with 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench, but with no one else finding a way to find consistent offense, New York had no answers as the Bulls picked up a nice late-season win.

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