Notebook: Knicks 90, Jazz 83



Posted Mar 19, 2013 2:25 AM

By Andrew Aragon, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Without their leading scorer, top rebounder and best defensive player -- and at the end of a brutal five-game road trip -- the New York Knicks played with some urgency on Monday night. And that proved to be one of the factors that propelled the Knicks to a 90-83 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night. New York (39-26), without Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, earned its only victory of a five-game road trip.

J.R. Smith scored 20 points off the bench, and Raymond Felton added 19 as New York earned a season sweep over Utah (34-33). The Knicks' four-game losing streak was book-ended by wins over the Jazz.

The Jazz, who blew a chance to pull even with the Los Angeles Lakers for the final Western Conference playoff spot, were led by Gordon Hayward. He had 17 points and a career-high four blocked shots.

QUOTABLE: "It's been a rough stretch for us on this road trip; a lot of guys in and out of the lineup. We kept our heads up. We're still a very confident team, but wins definitely help make you feel a lot better."

-- Knicks reserve center Kurt Thomas

THE STAT: New York's defense was outstanding in the second half, holding the Jazz to 28.9 percent shooting after halftime. The Knicks held Utah to just five field goals and 23.8 percent shooting in the third quarter. New York's defense was at its tightest during the game's most important stretch as the Jazz missed 9 of their last 10 shots. The only made basket was a meaningless layup by Paul Millsap with 7.2 seconds remaining.

TURNING POINT: The Knicks took control with a 12-1 run late in the third quarter. Smith did most of the work, making four free throws and throwing down a lob from Felton on a fast break. He also hit a running bank shot. Jason Kidd helped out with a long jumper and Felton capped the spurt with a runner to put the Knicks up 66-61 with 29.7 seconds left in the third quarter. The run was just what New York needed as it maintained its lead throughout the fourth quarter.

HOT: Thomas put together an inspiring performance for the Knicks. The 40-year-old reserve center got an X-ray and some treatment on his sprained foot before the game. Thomas noticeably hobbled up and down the court at times, but he was effective at boxing out and setting screens. On several possessions, he set multiple screens that helped New York's shooters get good looks at the basket. He played a season-high 27 minutes and had six points, three rebounds and three blocked shots. Smith was New York's catalyst on offense after halftime. He attacked and got to the free-throw line after the break. He shot 9-for-10 from the free-throw line, 4-for-7 from the field and scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half.

NOT: Derrick Favors' offensive limitations were on full display against the Knicks. He shot 1-for-7 from the field and 5-for-12 from the free-throw line. He finished with just seven points, but did have 13 rebounds. Al Jefferson and Mo Williams let the Jazz down with their subpar offensive outings. Jefferson shot 2-for-10 and Williams was 2-for-12 in the second half. Jefferson finished with 10 points and Williams had nine.

QUOTABLE II: "I gave him the game ball after the game. I mean, he deserved it. He hadn't played 26 minutes maybe all year and we really didn't even know if he was going to play tonight. He had three big blocks. It was a total team effort, but Kurt deserved the game ball tonight."

--Knicks coach Mike Woodson on Thomas

GOOD MOVE: The Knicks knew exactly how to exploit Utah's defense -- with the pick-and-roll. New York went right at the Jazz, especially in the first half against Jefferson, and built an early lead to take the crowd out of the game. Rookie Chris Copeland did much of the damage, using his athleticism in pick-and-roll plays to score 14 points.

BAD MOVE: Utah's offense was in disarray. Against a Knicks team missing Chandler and featuring a front line of Kenyon Martin, Thomas and Steve Novak, the Jazz failed to score near the basket. Utah scored a season-low 22 points in the paint because they didn't play inside-out. The Jazz settled for long jumpers early in possessions -- and missed a lot of them. Utah had no identity and no flow on offense against the Knicks, and it resulted in scoring its fewest points of the season. Williams is supposed to be the facilitator for Utah, but he was the team's biggest culprit of shooting early in the shot clock and playing sloppily.

NOTABLE: The Jazz have scored fewer than 90 points in four of their last six games. In the other two games they've scored exactly 90 points. Utah has scored a season-low 83 points three times: in a road win over Washington, a home loss to Golden State and against New York on Monday night. ... Kidd, who had seven points and five assists, had his right hand wrapped in ice and was getting treatment for it after the game. ... The Knicks have defeated the Jazz four straight times.

UP NEXT: For the Knicks, Wednesday vs. Magic, Friday @ Toronto, Saturday vs. Raptors. For the Jazz, Wednesday @ Houston, Friday @ San Antonio, Sunday @ Dallas.