Utah Jazz: Third-quarter meltdown leads to a familiar-looking loss to Knicks
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Fifty-second verse, same as the first.
In an all-too-familiar scenario, the Utah Jazz’s offense floundered through long stretches of scoring and executing discombobulation, resulting in another insufferable setback.
The Jazz dropped to 23-52, remaining tied for fewest wins in franchise history with the inaugural 1974-75 squad, with a disheartening 92-83 defeat to the New York Knicks on Monday at EnergySolutions Arena.
“It’s a little discouraging, but you can’t allow yourself to get discouraged,” Jazz point guard Trey Burke said. “You’ve just got to play through it. As simple as it is, you’ve got to keep playing.”
That, however, will only happen seven more times during this season, which is experiencing as bumpy of an ending as its 1-14 beginning.
“Just got to stay positive. It’s an old saying, but it holds a lot of weight, ‘Attitude is everything,’” the ever-optimistic Jazz forward Marvin Williams said. “If you continue to have a positive attitude, I really believe that positive things will happen for you. Just got to continue to work.”
In many ways, this latest loss looked just like Sunday’s setback in Oklahoma City.
And Friday’s shortcoming in New Orleans.
And, really, most of the past five games, all losses, and many of the 16 defeats in the past 18 contests.
The common theme has been a lack of firepower and leadership when needed, too many mistakes, and costly defensive lapses from a team that’s trying to learn on the fly.
On Sunday afternoon in OKC, that happened in the first quarter when the Jazz only scored four points during the brutal opening 9 1/2 minutes while the Thunder stormed off to an easy win.
The next night in Utah, the Jazz came unraveled in the second half when they got outscored 31-20 in the third quarter and only put up 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Star forward Carmelo Anthony did much of the damage, scoring a game-high 34 points. The Knicks, fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, also got an offensive boost from center Tyson Chandler (15 points), guard JR Smith (13 points) and point guard Raymond Felton (12 points).
“The man is easily one of the top three scorers in the world. It’s no surprise to anybody,” said Williams, who started in place of center Enes Kanter for the matchup with Anthony. “He averages 30 points per game, so he was going to get his 30 points at some point. He’s just so big and so strong, I was just trying to stay physical with him and make sure he didn’t get anything easy.”
Unfortunately for the Jazz, the Knicks succeeded at that more than the home team.
The win improved New York’s record to 32-43, which would be a lottery spot in the West but only has the Knicks one game out of the No. 8 position in the East behind Atlanta.
“We played another solid defensive game, which when you’re out on the road, that’s where you win most of your games is with defense,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said as his team wrapped up a 3-2 Western trip.
Chandler sparked the Knicks' defense, but his teammates were active and aggressive in making life difficult on the struggling Jazz in the second half.
Utah ended up only shooting 38.8 percent while failing to come anywhere near the 100-point mark, which it hasn’t hit in eight straight games.
Biggest problem? “Execution offensively,” Jazz guard Gordon Hayward said after scoring a team-high 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting. “For whatever reason, we didn’t figure out the way they were guarding our plays.”
The Knicks guarded their plays well, it turned out, and especially in the second half when the Jazz only scored 34 points on 14-of-42 shooting.
That helped turn a 67-all game into a runaway win for the Knicks, who ended the third on a 12-2 spurt.
“That was the difference in the game,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They got eight free throws in that stretch and we turned the ball over a few times.
“And this has happened to us the last few games. We hit that little lull where we just can’t score and that is the difference in the game. It happened again tonight and we just have to keep fighting and get better.”
NOTES: The Jazz, who finished a busy March with a 2-15 record, don’t play again until Friday. In his second game back from a four-game ankle-injury absence, Jazz guard Alec Burks scored 17 points, including his usual assortment of circus layup shots. The Knicks have won six straight against Utah, the only team to get swept by New York this season. ... Center Derrick Favors had his 23rd double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
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