The Utah Jazz are accustomed to getting off to quick starts. For the New York Knicks, a franchise that has been on the downturn in recent years, their record after five games is enough to spark some excitement.
Utah looks to match its best start in franchise history when it visits the high-scoring Knicks on Sunday.
The Jazz (5-0) are looking to open the season with six straight wins for just the second time in franchise history after accomplishing the feat in the strike-shortened 1998-99 campaign. They are one of three unbeaten teams in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta at 4-0.
Utah is used to strong starts, winning its first four games in 2004-05 and 2006-07, as well as going 7-2 to open last season. This year's performance is all the more impressive since the Jazz have been without Deron Williams, who's been sidelined since spraining his ankle during the preseason. It's uncertain if he'll play against the Knicks (3-2).
Without one of their top scorers from last season, the Jazz have relied on their defense, although they gave up a season high in points in a 104-97 win over Oklahoma City on Friday.
Carlos Boozer had 21 points and nine rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko added 16 points and 12 boards for Utah, which led by as many as 31 points but committed 19 turnovers to allow the Thunder to get back into the game. The Jazz held on after letting Oklahoma City pull within eight.
"It's fun to watch our players," said Jerry Sloan, who recorded his 1,000th win as coach of the Jazz. "It's fun to watch them play well and it's a little aggravating when they don't play as well as you like."
Utah is one of the NBA's top defensive teams, holding opponents to an average of 87.8 points. Four of its five games, however, were against teams that are among the league's lowest-scoring clubs, and now the Jazz meet the speedy Knicks, who are averaging 101.6 points.
New York averaged 96.9 points last season when it finished 23-59, but under new coach Mike D'Antoni, who brought his fast, high-scoring offense from Phoenix, the Knicks have their best record after five games since 2000-01 when they were also 3-2.
"The wins will come. I just want us to play well, play together, play hard, get a spirit among us, and start the culture off right," D'Antoni said. "As long as the guys' eyes are bright and they come into practice and they want to learn, that's all we can ask for right now."
The Knicks are coming off a 114-108 win at Washington on Friday. They shot a season-high 51.1 percent from the field and made 13 3-pointers. Jamal Crawford had 23 points, going 4-of-9 from 3-point range, and five players finished in double figures.
"It's fun," said Chris Duhon, who had 12 assists and no turnovers. "We still have a lot to learn. We're still trying to get comfortable with it, but so far we're doing a pretty good job with it. The thing is, as the season continues to go on, we're just going to continue to get better and better."
The Jazz and Knicks split last season's two meetings with each winning at home. Utah has dropped four straight at Madison Square Garden by a combined 14 points.
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