Chicago Bulls: Slow Start kills chances against Knicks

Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls fell 107-103 to the New York Knicks Wednesday night, but the game was no where near as close as the final score may make it seem. The Bulls fell behind 34-17 after the first quarter, and never regained their footing from there.

Despite losing by just four points, the Bulls only lead once in the game: at 2-0 following an opening basket from Lauri Markkanen. From then on, the Bulls never held a lead. They looked extremely sluggish on the defensive end, letting the Knicks get easy shots at the rim all night long.

This night also saw a down performance from Markkanen, who was previously on a roll after coming back from injury and quarantine.

In fact, all 22 of the Knicks first points came from in the paint. It wasn’t the Bulls defense that stopped them at 22 straight paint points either, it was Julius Randle’s hot hand.

The Knicks dominated the Bulls up and down the court in the first quarter, then coasted to a win off their hot start. The blowout defeat is a tough result for a Bulls team sitting half a game back from the Knicks in the race for a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in games.

What went wrong for the Chicago Bulls

Besides another strong performance from All-Star candidate Zach LaVine (24 points seven assists, five rebounds), the Bulls looked nothing like the team that knocked down the walls of New York’s stout defense in their victory Monday night.

The poor team showing featured forward Lauri Markkanen’s recent hot streak came to a screeching halt last night. The Finnish big man looked far less aggressive scoring just nine points on 3-8 FG and 0-4 3PT shooting.

Simply put, the Knicks came far more ready to compete than the Bulls did. Their explosive first quarter helped assert their place as contenders in the Eastern Conference playoff race, leaving the teams split even 1-1 on the season.

The Bulls will get another chance to face off against a team they are directly competing against in the playoff race with a two game stand on the road against the 8-14 Orlando Magic on Friday and Saturday night.

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Tip off time between the Bulls and Magic on Feb. 5 is set for 6 p.m. CT. Hopefully the Bulls will keep trending in the right direction after taking a step back in their loss to the Knicks on the night of Feb. 3. LaVine and Markkanen will need to come up big for the Bulls against star big man Nikola Vucevic and the Magic if that is to happen heading into the weekend.