One day after losing to one of the Eastern Conference's coldest teams after the offense went frigid, the New York Knicks return to Madison Square Garden on Monday night to face another of the conference's worst teams as the Chicago Bulls come to town for a 7:30 p.m. matchup.
The Knicks have a quick turnaround after dropping a 108-95 contest at Washington on Sunday, when no starter had more than 11 points. As a team, the Knicks (3-7) shot a paltry 42 percent from the field a 19 percent from 3-point range, obscuring what was a sound defensive effort. The Wizards shot just 43 percent and 23 percent from long range.
The Bulls, losers of four straight, take the mantle as the East's most frustrated squad from the Wizards, who snapped a five-game losing streak in the win over New York.
Chicago (2-8) fell, 96-88, to the Houston Rockets on Saturday, capping off an 0-4 home stand. The Bulls won the first, second, and fourth quarters individually (28-27, 28-27 and 25-21), but the Rockets held them to seven points in a 21-7 third quarter.
"We won three of those quarters," Chicago head coach Fred Hoiberg said after the game. "Unfortunately, we lost the fourth one big, and you can't have those types of lapses, especially as depleted as we are right now," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We're battling, we're growing defensively as a group. We've just got to be more consistent for 48 minutes."
One of the few bright spots for the young Bulls this season has been the play of rookie Chandler Hutchison. The No. 22 pick out of Boise State had 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes off the bench for the Bulls against Houston.
"It's just continuing to learn every game with the opportunity I've been given to make an impact and help the team win," Hutchison said. "Whenever I see an opportunity, the more that it comes, the more comfortable I'm going to be out there. I'm starting to kind of find my role with this team."
Similarly the Knicks are getting contributions from an unexpected source, as well, as undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier. He drew praise from head coach David Fizdale following the loss after scoring nine points, two days after scoring a career-high 23 in a 118-106 win at Dallas on Friday.
"I want our whole team to be that way," Fizdale said after the loss. "That's the identity -- that's Knicks DNA. Every player, if you go back through the history of the toughest teams, that was the attitude."
Hutchison told BullsTV after the loss that while he was eager to get to Madison Square Garden, he was more eager to snap Chicago out of its funk.
"Some of the guys have talked about (MSG) a little bit," he said, "talked about the atmosphere, and the people you see, and the crowd. But you know, focus on the win. That kind of trumps everything. It's not worrying about who we're playing or where we're playing. It's about getting some momentum."