Tom Thibodeau
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks fell to .500 with their latest tough loss.

The New York Knicks fought hard in the second half, but couldn’t get away from another tough loss. The Chicago Bulls came through with late heroics and free throws to beat New York 119-115 at Madison Square Garden.

Now, the Knicks are 11-11 on the year and 5-7 at home. Don’t get me wrong, even after overcoming a 21-point deficit to lead late in the fourth quarter.

Instead, due to a combination of bad decisions, bad luck, and just simply being overwhelmed, the team is once again on the wrong end of a winnable game.


Taj Gibson was missed

After missing weeks with a groin injury, Taj Gibson’s veteran leadership and size finally returned to the court tonight. Unfortunately, Gibson grew frustrated with the officiating and couldn’t control himself after being called for an offensive foul. He drew two quick technicals and Chicago hijacked the momentum.

Even worse for the New York Knicks, they were already short-handed in the middle. Mitchell Robinson was the only other center available, and Bulls big Nikola Vucevic took full advantage. He finished with 27 points, including five threes.


The New York Knicks…and Sicks

If anything, this game was proof of how important both Nerlens Noel and RJ Barrett are to this team. The Knicks were four points better on defense with Noel on the floor last season. Even with his current struggles, Barrett’s perimeter defense against guys like Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.

Neither man was available today, as both were sick with non-COVID illnesses along with young center Jericho Sims. If your best centers are a fatigued Robinson or sticking Julius Randle and Obi Toppin at the 5, then it’s a problem.

Throw in Vucevic, DeRozan, and LaVine scoring a combined 88 points, or almost 74% of the Bulls’ offense, and their absence looks devastating.


Free throws sink the Knicks

Another game lost, another game where the New York Knicks were further tanked by missed free throws. The team lost by four points, and missed five free throws. Randle himself missed some important ones in the fourth quarter, and was 2 of 5 from the line all evening.

The 18 turnovers were merely a side dish. The Knicks are 20th in the league in free-throw percentage and it’s cost them one game too many.



Player of the Game: Julius Randle

His issues at the foul line aside, Randle again looked back in form. He scored 30 points and was 14 of 21 from the field with 12 rebounds and six assists. And, of course, seven turnovers.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.