In what could be their most disappointing performance of the season, the Utah Jazz missed out on a golden opportunity to move back into the eighth slot in the Western Conference playoff chase. Facing a severely depleted New York Knicks team Monday, the Jazz’s lackluster effort resulted in a devastating 90-83 loss in a nationally televised contest.
The odds were definitely in Utah’s favor. The Knicks were coming off the second of a back-to-back series. They were devoid of stars Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire — and their 52.4 points per game. And the Jazz were playing at home in front of their own fans. All that did not matter one bit as Utah looked listless and discombobulated, particularly during the last several minutes of the game. New York’s bunch of aged vets and traveled journeymen played with energy, desire and teamwork, resulting in a big road win.
The Jazz failed to capitalize on the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss and remain half a game out of the playoff picture. Depending on how things shake out, Utah may look back on Monday’s perplexing outing as one that will sting.
Stepping Up: While the Knicks enjoyed solid outings from some of their main players such as J.R. Smith and Jason Kidd, it was the spirited effort from some unexpected sources that contributed heavily in New York’s big win.
Perhaps the player of the game was relative unknown Chris Copeland. The cagey rookie displayed hustle and skill, especially when pitted against Utah’s large and physical frontcourt. Riding a great first half, the forward finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
Kenyon Martin was not in the NBA three weeks ago, but still found himself starting and producing a nine-point, nine-rebound night. Fellow long-in-the-tooth forward Kurt Thomas toiled a season-high 27 minutes and had his fair share of crafty, heady plays.
The Opposite: Conversely, some of Utah’s leading players suffered through some poor evenings. Leading scorer Al Jefferson seemed bothered by the litany of New York defenders, hitting just 4 of 13 from the floor for a mere 10 points. He did grab 11 rebounds.
Mo Williams was a bit worse, connecting on 4 of 14 shots for nine points. With him at the point guard helm for much of the game, Utah’s execution was poor during some key stretches, including the final three minutes. The Jazz shot a paltry 38.2 percent for the night.
Lastly, Derrick Favors was strong on the boards (13 caroms), but made just 1 of 7 shots. He also missed seven of his 12 free throws.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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