Tonight the Utah Jazz (21-40, 7-24 on the road) will face off against the New York Knicks (22-40, 12-20 at home). These are two clubs that are, well, not consistently competitive right now. One team was purposely built that way, the other spared no expense in order to be a contender. The difference in the league standings right now are just 0.5 games, but if you look at the balance sheet for the year, well, it seems like the Miller Family money is going much farther than that of James Dolan.
The Knicks are just a mess right now. New York has won just three of their last fifteen games. They won two nights ago against the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road (118-106), but previous to that they had lost seven straight games: @ Magic, @ Hawks, vs Mavericks, @ Heat, vs Warriors, @ Bulls, and @ Pistons. Some of those teams can play really well, but for the most part that's a rogue's gallery of the teams we feature daily in the "While you were sleeping" section which documents the trials of lottery teams. But the silver lining is that during this stretch star forward Carmelo Anthony has been doing a lot of scoring: 36, 26, 31, 15, 36, 22, 42, 44, 35, 44, 29, 23, 21, 28, and 33.
Unfortunately that hasn't resulted in many wins. That's not a surprise for us Jazz fans, we've seen Melo score a lot and lose at the same time. We're used to it. Looks like the Knicks fans are too. They've been a mess for most of the season as they have the 26th "best" defense in the league (109.5 points per 100.0 possessions), and play at such a slow pace (28th, 90.7 possessions per game) that they try to hide it as much as possible. Their offense is unimaginative, much like their coach Mike Woodson - and for the season they do have the 14th best offense by Offensive Rating (106.4 / 100.0) but they just aren't going to play fast enough to take advantage of it.
They do start a small forward at power forward (Melo) and play slowly like we do. They are also a bad defensive club like we are. And they're not winning. Neither are we. The matchup between Marvin Williams and Melo will be fun to watch as it will either prove or disprove some grand theory some people have about the evolution of this position.
This game will also be another reunification of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, two University of Michigan guards. Furthermore, today is Ian Clark's birthday. It would be cool to get a win tonight. It would also be cool if he plays tonight. But Tyrone Corbin isn't into what's cool (he's a traditionalist who doesn't like trendy things - that's why he starts a SF at PF). So don't hold your breath.
As for our squad, the Jazz will be playing game 5 of 6 on the road. Here's a quick recap:
- The Jazz lost on Friday to the Cleveland Cavaliers
- The Jazz lost on Sunday to the Indiana Pacers
- The Jazz lost on Monday to the Milwaukee Bucks
- The Jazz lost on Wednesday to the Washington Wizards
There's some consistence there that the Jazz haven't seen since the beginning of the season. So, we've got that going for us. We also have the improved play and increased playing time for Alec Burks and Enes Kanter. These two cats have been showing what they can do. It's been fun to watch. It will be fun to see what they do tonight for sure. Inside the Knicks still have Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, and Melo - which is enough size and talent (on paper) to make a difference even if Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani are both injured. As for the guard spot, guys like Tim Hardaway, Iman Shumpert, and J.R. Smith will give Alec a lot of different looks. Each of them are better shooters than him and equally as volatile as scorers. Trey Burke should toast Raymond Felton, but for whatever reason he's able to hold his own against people who should toast him.
Overall the Knicks should be a much better team than they are. They just aren't winning. Which is exactly what we're doing as well. If Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors can shine under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden we may escape from NY with a win.