Bad basketball has been rampant throughout the NBA during this lockout-shortened season. But few performances have been worse than the one put on Friday night by the New York Knicks.
The Knicks made just 19 baskets, tying the NBA record-low set by Utah against San Antonio in 1997 and by Indiana at New York in 1985, in a 76-63 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
"We missed shots, had turnovers, missed free throws. We did everything we could to be that bad. You have to do everything wrong to be as bad as we were," New York coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
Playing without injured Patrick Ewing, New York also flirted with the lowest point total of all time 54 set by Utah against the Bulls in Game 3 of last June's NBA finals.
The Knicks entered the final quarter trailing 63-33 but were able to pad their total in the final minutes against Chicago's reserves, scoring 30 in the final period.
"I don't think it can get much worse than that," said Van Gundy, whose team called a players' meeting right after the humiliating loss.
"We've been on the receiving end of a couple of these, most recently at New York," Bulls coach Tim Floyd said. "The last five games our defense has improved and allowed us to hang in there."
The Bulls had scored 68 and 63 points in losses to the Knicks earlier this season, before reversing roles Friday night behind a quick start from Toni Kukoc and New York's miserable play.
"In a season like this, you will have games like this and you got to take advantage of them," said Kukoc, who scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half after hitting his first five shots.
"I hit a few shots and it was good to jump to an early lead. From there, we just controlled the game. They had to shoot early to get close to us."
The Knicks managed only five second-quarter points, had onl 22 points in the first half and shot 31 percent.
The Bulls went on an 18-0 run in the first quarter, and with their 18-5 advantage in the second led 47-22 at the half.
The Knicks' 22 first-half points were their fewest ever, four under the 26 they mustered on Feb 23, 1973 against the Bulls at the old Chicago Stadium. The NBA record for fewest points in a half is 20 set by the New Orleans Jazz against Seattle on Jan. 4, 1975.
All the Knicks managed in the second quarter was a jumper and three free throws from Latrell Sprewell they shot 1-for-13 and the five points matched the NBA record for second-quarter scoring futility. Utah scored five second-quarter points against the Lakers on Dec. 1, 1981. It also equaled the Knicks' post shot-clock record for any quarter. They scored just five against Portland on Feb. 26, 1997.
And the 22 points were the fewest ever allowed in a half by the Bulls, going back to 1974 when they allowed just 25 against Golden State.
"No one wants to go out and have the type of team effort we did," Sprewell said. "It was very embarrassing, very disappointing."
Kukoc, who started quickly Thursday night with 21 first-half points against Seattle, only to score seven in the second, couldn't miss at the outset of Friday night's game.
He made his first five shots including four straight 3-pointers and the Bulls used the 18-0 run to build 29-8 lead with two minutes to go in the quarter. The Knicks got back in with nine straight points to close the quarter, including a three-point play by Sprewell.
Marcus Camby, who on Thursday signed a six-year, $39 million contract extension, scored 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter. Allan Houston led the Knicks with 16.
Notes:The Bulls scored 68 and 63 points tying a franchise low in their two previous games against the Knicks. Ewing missed his second straight game with Achilles tendinitis. ... Last time they played in Chicago, the Knicks held the Bulls to 26 percent shooting and 23 second-half points. ...The Bulls made a lineup change, putting center Bill Wennington in and taking guard-forward Brent Barry out. It was Wennington's first start this season.. ...Knicks guard Charlie Ward, bothered by a sore right shoulder, played only five minutes and did not score.
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