The Knicks muddied this game up and found a way to make everything hard for the Jazz who struggled to shoot the ball tonight. As a team, they shot just 32% from three and 43% from the field. It could be the Jazz had tired legs and couldn’t find their rhythm, but credit should also be given to the Knicks for defending well and making every shot difficult for the Jazz.
Utah’s leading scorer in this one was Kelly Olynyk, with 27. Olynyk has been such a solid performer for the Jazz, but if he’s leading the team in scoring, that probably means the other team is doing a good job of taking out the other scorers on your team. Who did they take out? Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen scored just 13 points and struggled to make a huge impact on the game. It’s getting pretty clear that when Markkanen has a big game, the Jazz typically come out with a win. When he doesn’t have a big scoring night, like tonight, it’s really hard for the Jazz to find high-level scoring elsewhere on the team.
And that’s the other issue the Jazz had. A major reason the Jazz have been winning games is they’ve done it on the margins with their depth. Tonight it wasn’t there for Collin Sexton. In 17 minutes off the bench, Sexton scored just 3 points on 1/5 shooting and didn’t provide much for Utah with his scoring. If the Jazz get a big game from either of those players, they probably pull this one out. But with such a dearth of scoring from Sexton and Markkanen, they just didn’t have enough to get by.
The story for the Knicks was another big game for Jalen Brunson against the Jazz. Brunson scored 25 in this one with some big buckets at the end of the game to stave off a Jazz run. He looks like he’s found a nice spot in New York but needs a high level counterpart to take this Knicks team to another level. If only they had a chance at an elite scorer at the shooting guard spot that wanted to go there? I wonder if that will ever happen? Oh well, when that opportunity presents itself, surely the Knicks will take advantage, right?