How quickly things change. After perhaps their best, most spirited win of the season Saturday over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Jazz put forth what may have been their most dispirited game Monday in the Big Apple. Playing against all odds, the undermanned New York Knicks defeated the Utah Jazz 99-88.
Except for a solid third quarter, the Jazz could never get it going. All the things that helped them versus LA were noticeably absent: running the offense, manning up defensively, hitting the boards and getting the loose balls.
Conversely, the Knicks did all the right things. No Amar’e Stoudamire, due to the tragic loss of his brother? Lose Carmelo Anthony to injury? Foul trouble for their defensive anchor Tyson Chandler? No problem at all. Led by their newest sensation Jeremy Lin, a cast of unsung players drained three-pointers, made acrobatic dunks and simply outhustled the Jazz.
Al Jefferson had 22 points, but it took 20 shots to get them. Raja Bell played one of his best games of the season, notching a season-high 15. Gordon Hayward chipped in 14. Three key players — Paul Millsap, Josh Howard, and Earl Watson —combined for just 11 points on 4-of-18 shooting.
Unexpected Performances: Lin was the story of the game for the Knicks. On the heels of a 25-point, seven-assist game Saturday, he bested that with a 28-point, eight-assist outing. There was highlight after highlight as he sliced and diced his way to a 45-minute performance that had the Madison Square Garden crowd buzzing.
But he was not the only one who rose to the occasion. Back-up power forward Steve Novak entered the game with a 3.4 points per game average. When the buzzer sounded, he has torched Utah for 19 points in just 17 minutes. His five treys were huge.
Offensively modest Jared Jeffries had 13 points, getting to the free throw line 10 times. Lastly, reserve Bill Walker doubled his 5.8 point average with 11.
Tale of Three Ugly Quarters: The first quarter saw the Jazz struggling mightily on offense, managing to score a paltry 16 points on a mere 33.3 percent from the floor (six for 18 field goals), while committing five turnovers. There was a lot of isolation plays, with little movement without the ball.
The second quarter was a little of the same, but while the Jazz fared better offensively, they struggled heavily on defense. Twitter sensation Lin orchestrated a 32-point quarter, driving and dishing at will. He was especially successful at setting up sharpshooter Novak, who earned 10 points on four perimeter jumpers. The turnovers continued to mount, with eight miscues in the second stanza.
After a nice respite in the third quarter (35 points), the fourth quarter was lethargic for the Jazz. Tyrone Corbin’s team struggled throughout, getting bested 24-15.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. 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.