The Utah Jazz (44-28) defeated the New York Knicks (27-44) on ESPN on #JazzReunited night by the final score of 108-101. It was a great comeback victory for a team that was down by 12 twice, and 13 once. Jeff Hornacek had a great game plan to take Rudy Gobert out of the paint to start the game with Kristaps Porzingis staying out of it, and attacking off of oblique angles. It was working as the Knicks raced to a 10 point lead and ended up dropping 34 in the first. Of course, Quin Snyder made adjustments.
Both teams were without starting bigmen, Derrick Favors for the home team and Joakim Noah for the bad guys. That meant Snyder had the opportunity to go small with Joe Johnson at power forward. It also forced Hornacek into pushing Porzingis to center. The end result was Utah having the firepower on the court to come back from the big deficits while also having the tangible size advantage in the paint to crash the boards (18 offensive rebounds tonight).
It was a very fun game, even if Utah was behind after the first quarter, at halftime, and after three. Carmelo Anthony shot poorly, Derrick Rose did his thing but got hurt, and the Knicks just didn’t have enough to hold off the Jazz. Gordon Hayward shot poorly (whatever Paul George must have been contagious), going only 6/17 from the field and 1/7 from deep. Most of those makes were in the fourth quarter. He would finish with 19, but scored 14 of those in the final frame.
George Hill was his usual Swiss army knife, and Joe Johnson and Raul Neto both came off the bench to give the team good minutes. But tonight was all about Rudy who played so great Kristaps fouled himself out of the game to get away from the carnage. The Gobzilla would finish with 35 points (13/14 from the field, 9/12 from the line), 13 rebounds (11 offensive), 4 blocks, 1 assist, and 1 steal.
Without him there was nothing tonight. So here’s a replay of the entire game:
The @utahjazz beat the Knicks 108-101 behind Rudy Gobert's career-high 35 points! pic.twitter.com/YHH16M3lhG— NBA TV (@NBATV) March 23, 2017
Thankfully the Jazz won, and avoided losing four in a row (all against Eastern conference teams). Utah is now at 44 wins on the season. There are 10 games left. Can they win 50? Can they hold onto home court? It’s going to be tough, especially if it’s a one man show.
But I think having the vets back in town to talk to the team should give them a reason to finish this season strong. You can climb to the top of the mountain. It’s that much easier to do when you have a mountain of your own in Gobert.
Utah has two nights off then visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.