NEW YORK — The celebrity sitting courtside at Madison Square Garden was fitting for Monday night.
And we're not talking about Spike Lee or Kevin Bacon.
In front of Smoking Joe Frazier, the Utah Glass Jawzz crumpled when the New York Knicks came out swinging during their unanimous 131-109 decision.
The Jazz's four-game road trip started with a TKO loss — not to mention some bruised egos and a whole lot of injuries.
"That's embarrassing the way we came out and played tonight," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
While a knockout is an apropos analogy for one of the worst losses of the season for 33-31 Utah — which now sits 2½ games out of the playoff picture — the words fight and Jazz shouldn't be used in the same sentence when it comes to this outing.
"We didn't really put up much of a fight," Jazz point guard Devin Harris said.
And the players' new boss let his team hear all about it in the locker room..
Witnessing a blowout in which his players allowed 40 first-quarter points and passively watched the Knicks' high-flying offense as if they were observing a Broadway show did not sit well with Corbin.
Not at all.
Corbin even took about 10 extra minutes to come out and address the media after giving his team a piece of his upset mind.
"You come out and you play like we did tonight without any enthusiasm, any kind of effort, we need to have a longer talk to find out where we are, who we are," Corbin said. "That's not who we want to display (we are) as individuals, as a group of guys and as a franchise."
Despite coming into this one having built a bit of momentum from a rare win against Sacramento on Saturday, the Jazz fell to the mat quickly. They trailed 40-24 after the first quarter, and that deficit grew as big as 31 points as the unimpeded Knicks shot 56.1 percent overall and 13-for-26 from 3-point range.
Guard Toney Douglas torched the Jazz early, with 17 first-half points en route to a 20-point night. The unknown entity then shared the scoring duties with the Knicks' superstars, and Carmelo Anthony (34 points) and Amar'e Stoudemire (31 points) responded with a Frazier-like fierceness.
"They're two of the most potent scorers in the league," Corbin said, "and if you don't put pressure on them and you don't get hands on them and you let them go where they want to go and get the ball where they want to get it, they're going to try and kill you."
Though shorthanded, the Jazz wanted nothing to do with using their injury situation as an excuse for the lackluster loss.
Still, Utah began the game with only 10 players in uniform because of injuries to Francisco Elson (left ankle and knee), Ronnie Price (toe), Kyrylo Fesenko (back) and Mehmet Okur (back).
Making matters worse, starting forwards Andrei Kirilenko (back) and Paul Millsap (knee) both gave it a go after being game-time decisions but had their nights cut short due to their nagging injuries.
"Maybe," Millsap admitted while talking about his left patellar tendinitis, "I should have sat out a little bit, sat this one out."
Some might argue most of the Jazz team did just that anyway.
Center Al Jefferson continued his torrid ways, scoring 36 points with 12 rebounds. But the rest of the starters — keeping two short nights in mind — shot a combined 6-for-22.
The other highlight: Rookie Derrick Favors scored a career-best 16 points with eight boards off the bench, and Gordon Hayward (11 points) hit a long ball in front of Lee, the nemesis of his childhood hero Reggie Miller.
But those performances weren't nearly enough to lighten the dour mood in the locker room after Utah lost for the ninth time in 11 games.
"We didn't play like we were trying to make the playoffs," Jefferson said. "We came on this trip to take care of business. We (are) not here to have fun. We (are) not here to enjoy the nightlife. We (are) not here to get away from Utah. We (are) here to take care of business, and we didn't play like that tonight."
Players said their coach's message was on point and taken to heart.
"I'm not going to discuss what he's talking about, but everything he said was true," Millsap said. "We've just got to take it amongst ourselves to take on the challenge of finishing the season off like we know how."
Added Harris, who had seven assists but was 0-for-7: "We didn't play like a team that's desperate to get into the playoffs. We've got to find that hunger and we've got to find it quick."81 comments on this story
Either that, or a clubbing in Canada on Wednesday awaits.
"Even if you lose a game, you can lose with some dignity," Corbin added. "I don't think this loss tonight did anybody any good."