Chicago Bulls: Ball movement was key to win over the Knicks

Coby White, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Coby White, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The best way to topple a strong defense in the NBA is ball movement. It works by the same logic that your rec-league coaches tell you when you’re in middle school: the more you move the ball, the more open shots you get. Last night against the New York Knicks, that’s exactly how the Chicago Bulls snapped their three game losing streak.

On the season so far, the Knicks have limited their opponents to just 104.2 points per game, second lowest in the NBA only behind the reigning NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. They’ve kept their opponent’s scoring low by tightly contesting shots, keeping their opponents to the lowest field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage in the NBA.

On Feb. 1 however, the Bulls lit them up. The Knicks team that allows an impressive 43.3 field goal percentage from their opponents gave up 47.7 percent field goal shooting last night, a number that would rank fifth worst in the league across the season.

The key to the Bulls’ success was passing, which helped them find easy looks at the rim all night long.

Where the Chicago Bulls go from here

The 8-11 Bulls have a far stronger 4-2 record in games where they total at 30+ assists, a threshold they crossed last night with 30 assists thanks to eight from Thaddeus Young and six from Coby White. Both Young and White are coming up big of late for the Bulls, especially in the assist department.

By moving the ball, the Bulls were able to unsettle the Knicks defense and find open shots against a Knicks team that knows how to lock down its opponents under the leadership of former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

This was never more evident than it was late in the fourth quarter; when the Bulls’ willingness to pass set White up for a wide open dagger to all but seal the win.

Post game, Lauri Markkanen (30 points, 11-18 FG) stressed the importance of ball movement to the his recent success.

“Getting good looks,” he said. “My teammates are doing a good job. I’m getting pretty open looks. The ball is going through the hoop.”

With the Bulls and Knicks set to play again on Feb. 3 at the United Center, it will be interesting to see if coach Thibodeau can find a way to stop the Bulls’ ball movement. Back to back wins over New York would be huge for the Bulls’ pursuit of the eighth seed, as the Bulls currently sit one game behind the Charlotte Hornets.

dark. Next. Lauri, LaVine push team to a comeback win over Knicks

The Bulls will take on the Knicks at 7 p.m. CT at home on Feb. 2. White, Young, and the Bulls will have a good opportunity to extend their winning streak to two games. That would be a nice sight for Bulls fans to see after they witnessed their team build up a three-game losing streak last week.