The Utah Jazz (4-3) defeated the New York Knicks (2-4) by the absurd score of 114-109. It seems absurd because the Jazz were down by 13 in the first half. Even more absurd, this is just the third win in Madison Square Garden since the starting lineup was Carlos Arroyo, Sasha Pavlovic, Andrei Kirilenko, Michael Ruffin, and Jarron Collins. All-Time, this is the 14th ever win in New York by the New Orleans / Utah Jazz. (The full list of #UTAatNYK games can be found at Basketball-Reference.com) And while the outcome of this game looked very unlikely in the first half, Quin Snyder made sure to get his first win against Jeff Hornacek with a better game plan down the stretch.
Snyder’s Jazz took the long way up the mountain, eventually tying the Knicks in the third quarter 60-60. Gordon Hayward’s first game in 31 days had him struggling to start, but after he and his teammates got into the flow of things their collecting of complimentary talents seemed to mix a lot better than the hand Hornacek was dealt.
This was evident in the fourth quarter as the Jazz finished the game with a George Hill / Rodney Hood / Gordon Hayward / Joe Johnson / Rudy Gobert lineup. (Until he fouled out and was replaced by Derrick Favors.) These players were setting screens, rotating, finding the open man, and doing that thing called ‘passing the ball’. Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony? Even Kristaps Porzingis ended up looking for their own number down the stretch. Sure, if you play fantasy basketball those three had great nights — but numbers may be the one thing besides the ‘popularity amongst casual NBA fans’ that the 2016-17 Knicks have over the Jazz.
This come from behind victory was party DUE to guys like Kristaps scoring 28 points, while finishing with one assist; or Derrick getting 8 assists, to his 4 turn overs. The only Knickerbocker who finished the game without fault was Courtney Lee. But enough about the Knicks.
Gordon Hayward and crew started this game off a little rusty. Either it was all of their cumulative playing time lately, the early start, or even the time change . . . but these guys were out of sorts to start the game. After one quarter it was 30-20 for NY, and it looked like the Jazz were settling for jumpers. (Hint: they were) I’m happy the team climbed back and won this game. It’s a great way to start a road trip — especially after the listless way they came into the San Antonio Spurs game where they got their butts whipped.
G-Time’s focus was on scoring in this game, and he didn’t get any assists. Of course, he got plenty of hockey assists, but those aren’t counted in the boxscore. His 14/14 from the FT line was a sight for sore eyes. (14/14 from the FT line is also known as a month’s worth of work from the stripe for Al Jefferson) He did not shoot well, 6/17 FG and 2/8 from deep. But in the fourth he did take rhythm shots and hit them in crunch time when the refs allowed the Knicks to get a whole bunch of free throws late to make it a close game.
Rodney Hood and George Hill combined for 41 points, 13 assists, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and shot 15/25. Best part? Zero turn overs. They were unselfish and made the extra pass all night long. Hill’s floater is a part of his game I did not remember seeing before. And he was feeling so good tonight that he was making them off the bounce and off the glass.
Rudy Gobert had his hands full with Kristaps at times, the Soviet’s ability to hit deep shots is going to be a big factor in his continued development. That takes Rudy out of the paint, and it’s not great. But this game, more than anything else I’ve seen, was a game of everybody on both teams switching. So we got a lot of madness, like Porz trying to take George Hill in the paint and failing.
Rudy had an okay game, but foul troubled send him to the bench early and often and finished the game for him as he fouled out. He did finish with 13 and 8, with 3 blocks to go with his 1 assist and 1 steal. I think the team could do a better job of getting him the ball. But he was focused on defense and still got in trouble at times. But he gave as good as he got in this battle.
Derrick Favors also had 13 points in this game, and his jumper was working. He was also hampered by foul trouble, and finished the game with five.
The Jazz got some minutes off the bench from Shelvin Mack (aka. the Human Disaster) and birthday boy (yesterday) Trey Lyles.
They had their moments, but it really was about Joe Johnson.
The vet took to the bench after G-Time returned, and still finished this game. He turned in an across the board performance against the Knicks — a team he knows really well. In half the game he scored 10 points, and added 2 boards, 2 times, 2 threes, and 2 steals. He went 4/4 from the stripe and took only 5 shots. Efficient. And just what this team needed.
Dante Exum and Joe Ingles also played in this game, but there wasn’t much to write about.
The Jazz play TOMORROW against The Process (Joel Embiid) and the Philadelphia 76ers for game 2 of 5 on this East road trip.