NEW YORK — Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans faced a predicament of utmost importance Sunday night in the Big Apple.
The rookies were starving after making a cross-country flight to one of the culinary capitals of the world.
But deciding which eclectic, award-winning or gourmet establishment to eat at was not the problem.
The cuisine quandary?
The line to get into the Olive Garden was a whopping 40 minutes long.
And that's an eternity for young guys to have to wait for pasta and unlimited breadsticks and salad.
The wait, they said, was worth it.
Hayward has been teased about this dining dilemma since he tweeted about it Sunday night.
"I knew people were hating," the 20-year-old said, "but I don't know what's wrong with Olive Garden, to be honest."
Nothing, perhaps, if you're in Sandy.
But a meal there while in Manhattan?
"It fit his budget," Jazz veteran guard Earl Watson said, chiming in while rubbing his fingers together and poking fun of his teammates.
The penny-pinching Hayward, who has a multimillion-dollar contract but drives a Honda, didn't deny that.
"We wanted Olive Garden," he said, laughing. "Anywhere it's good pasta, good breadsticks, good salad."
"It's cheap," he said.
"It was right around the corner."
Even though his buddy from Western Kentucky didn't complain about the choice, Evans said he doesn't mind taking his appetite on adventures. Just not this time.
The 23-year-old was hankering for a Tour of Italy entree, his usual.
"I don't want to get sick," Evans said of what might happen if his palette strays. "I want to be able to perform well."
And the O.G., he said with a laugh, will "keep you straight."
Hayward, for the record, had spaghetti with meatballs.
"It hit the spot," he said.
Just like the Subway footlong sandwich he ate on Monday afternoon did.
SLOW START: The Jazz had allowed 37 points in a quarter three different times this season, but the Knicks topped by that by three to become the first time to hit the 40-point mark in a period against Utah this season.
"It's pretty frustrating," Jazz point guard Devin Harris said. "Obviously, we didn't bring a whole lot of effort from the start of the game."
En route to a 131-109 blowout win, New York hit 15 of 22 shots (68.2 percent) in that opening period to put this game away early.
"You can't give up a 40-point quarter, especially to start the game," Harris added. "It gives them a lot of confidence for the rest of the game."
Added Paul Millsap: "(It was) very disappointing as a whole. It felt like the effort wasn't there from jump. We can't have that effort coming down the stretch like that."
JUGGERKNICKS: New York is the second-highest scoring team in the NBA, but the Knicks would be a lock for the No. 1 spot if they always played the Jazz. In two games against Utah this season, New York averaged 128 points.
That, by the way, is 22 points above their offensive average coming in of 106.1 points per outing. And the Knicks own the two highest-scoring games by a Jazz opponent this year.
"Offensively, we proved we can score," Harris said. "But if we can't stop anybody we're not headed in the right direction. Defensively, we've got to get a whole lot better. The communication's got to be there. The rotation's got to be there. Everybody has got to be on the same page."
Utah won the first meeting vs. N.Y. at home, 131-125.
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