10:30 PM ET | Vivint Smart Home Arena
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM
1. The Knicks made a furious comeback on Wednesday night in Memphis but the effort just fell short in the 105-99 defeat. Unfortunately for New York, two crucial plays did not go its way when Kristaps Porzingis was whistled for a foul on a loose ball and Courtney Lee was hit with a technical in the final minutes. The Grizzlies converted the necessary free throws down the stretch to secure the victory. Porzingis posted a team-high 21 points and tied a season-high with six swats to go along with three steals. Enes Kanter recorded 20 points and nine boards and Michael Beasley and Lee registered 18 points apiece.
2. On Wednesday night, Lee set a new franchise record with 46 consecutive free throws made. He passed Chris Duhon the on the Knicks all-time list and the dependable guard leads the league in free throw percentage at 96.3. In addition to his efficiency at the stripe, Lee is a sharpshooter from long distance as he ranks No. 9 in the NBA in 3-point shooting (42.9%).
3. Kanter faces the team that drafted him third overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. The big man has made some significant progress since his rookie season in Utah. This year, Kanter leads New York in rebounding at 9.9 boards per game and he’s averaging 13.6 points with a 23.92 PER. Currently, Kanter is tied for 13th in the double-double category in the NBA with 18 this season. Kanter is also the fifth-best offensive rebounder in the league as he grabs 3.5 per outing.
4. The Knicks bounced back after a tough loss to Cleveland in their first meeting against the Jazz on November 15. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the charge with 26 points while Porzingis scored 22, and Lee added 19 in the 106-101 win at Madison Square Garden. New York dominated in the paint by outscoring the road team 36-20 and in second chance points, 21-3. Tonight marks the final encounter between the two squads.
5. Utah has lost 15 of its last 20 contents heading into tonight’s rematch at Vivint Smart Home Arena. However, the Jazz are fresh off a 15-point victory over the Kings, led by rookie Donovan Mitchell’s 34 points. Defensively, Utah is attempting to find its identity without one of the best defenders in the league in the lineup. Rudy Gobert has missed the last 15 games for the Jazz but he is listed as probable for tonight. To counter Gobert’s absence, head coach Quin Snyder starts Derrick Favors, Jonas Jerebko, and Joe Ingles in the frontcourt. Offensively, the backcourt is dynamic with Mitchell leading the team in points per game and Ricky Rubio is averaging 4.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game. New York will have to keep an eye on Rodney Hood, considering he dropped 25 against Sacramento and exploded for 30 points off the bench in the November 15 battle against the Knicks. Utah owns a 13-8 record at home this season.