Utah Jazz suffer stinging home loss to the outmanned Knicks
SALT LAKE CITY — Before Monday's game against the New York Knicks, some Jazz players acted like they had amnesia when it came to recalling Utah's pitiful performance in a self-described "embarrassing" 29-point loss on March 9 at Madison Square Garden.
"I don't remember what you're talking about," Jazz center Al Jefferson said Monday morning.
"We left that game in New York. We're a different ball team," Jazz forward Paul Millsap added. "We feel like we're a more confident ball team than we were then. We've got our fans behind us tonight, so that's going to help us out."
As a result, the Jazz might want to quickly blank out what happened in their rubber match with the Knicks.
Despite going against a vastly outmanned team that was playing its fifth game in eight nights, the Jazz suffered a pathetic 90-83 loss to New York.
"Very difficult, really difficult game for us," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said after watching his team get completely outplayed in the second half.
"We had to play a certain way and we had to play from inside out to be effective. They took us out of our game. They were the aggressors tonight."
J.R. Smith scored 20 points, including a key jumper with 2:36 remaining, and Raymond Felton added 19 points as the Knicks snapped a four-game losing streak in their road-trip finale.
It was known that center Amar'e Stoudemire wouldn't play because of his knee injury, which will keep him out for at least six weeks.
But the Knicks were also without star Carmelo Anthony (knee) and Tyson Chandler (knee/neck).
It didn't matter.
"It was a great win for our ballclub," said New York coach Mike Woodson, whose Knicks dropped the Jazz's home record to 24-9. "To come to Utah, it is hard to win here and to play a good team who has played well at home and to be shorthanded like we were, we stepped up."
And stomped down on Utah's throats for the second time in a week and a half.
Gordon Hayward led Utah with 17 points, but offensive highlights and production were few and far between for the Jazz on this night.
"I thought we played hard," Hayward said. "We competed. We just fell a little short. That was a tough one to lose."
Utah hardly acted like a team fighting for a playoff spot — a scene that happened five days earlier during an ugly 110-87 ESPN-televised road blowout in Oklahoma City.
The Jazz only shot 38.2 percent.
They scored just 39 points in the second half despite going against a squad playing without three of its top players.
Utah missed nine of its last 10 shots while blowing an opportunity to sustain momentum gained with Saturday's big win over Memphis.
Worst of all, the Jazz fell to 34-33 and failed to take advantage after the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers (36-33) were clobbered by the Suns, 99-76.
"We can't look at other teams. Our main focus is just win," Millsap said earlier Monday. "If we win games, we'll be where we need to be at the end of the year. As far as watching other teams, it's none of our business."
In that regard, the Jazz big men certainly didn't take care of their own business.
Jefferson and Millsap combined to score just 22 points on 8-of-22 shooting while being bothered by New York's mix-and-match frontcourt of Kenyon Martin, Chris Copeland and Kurt Thomas.
New York got outrebounded 46-34 but outscored the Jazz 34-22 in the paint where Utah was supposed to have a huge advantage with the absence of Chandler and Stoudemire.
"We had it going for a little bit and then somehow our rhythm got killed," Millsap said. "We got taken out of our stuff. Overall, our defense was pretty strong. We made some adjustments on the defensive end, but we just couldn't score."
The Jazz finished the first half strong. Mo Williams' buzzer-beater capped an 8-0 run before halftime for a 44-42 lead.
Utah fell behind 50-46 in the third quarter before Hayward hit back-to-back 3-pointers after a timeout during a 14-4 spurt that gave the Jazz a 60-54 lead.
But it all went downhill after that.
Smith scored six points in a 10-0 Knicks spurt, and the visitors enjoyed a 66-63 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Thomas and Felton put New York ahead 84-76 advantage with 4:31 to go after the stout guard and the 40-year-old veteran nailed consecutive jumpers.
Mo Williams got that back down to a three-point game with a 3-pointer and an inside bucket, but the Jazz only managed two points — on a late, meaningless putback by Millsap — in the final three and a half minutes.
The usually reliable Jazz bench didn't offer nearly as much punch as the Knicks, who had the big night from Smith. Center Enes Kanter was the only Jazz reserve in double digits with 10 points, while backup big Derrick Favors had a game-high 13 rebounds but only hit 1 of 7 shots for seven points.
This was hardly the result the Jazz were looking for as they head out on a treacherous three-game trip in Texas, beginning Wednesday in Houston with another must-win-type game.
"It's frustrating," Jazz forward Marvin Williams said. "Give a ton of credit to New York. They came out and played well."
Something that can't be said of Utah, which lost for the ninth time in 12 games despite being in what Mo Williams called "must-win mode."
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