SALT LAKE CITY — You’d think a team that happens to be the oldest in the NBA — a team at the end of a five-game, weeklong road trip that had played the night before — would be easy pickin’s for a young Utah Jazz team that played one of its best games of the season two nights earlier and rested the day before.
However, that wasn’t the case Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena, where New York’s bunch of old-timers beat a young Jazz team that looked listless for much of the night, 90-83.
Let’s see, there was 40-year-old Kurt Thomas sinking shots, rebounding, blocking shots, and playing a season-high 26 minutes off the bench. How about Jason Kidd, who turns 40 later this week, playing the entire fourth quarter and leading his team with five assists and scoring key buckets? Then there was 35-year-old Kenyon Martin, who started and led his team with nine rebounds while scoring nine points.
“You‘ve got to give them credit. They were the aggressors all night. They made things tough for us,’’ said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. “These guys are who they are. They’re going to play physical most games. They’re a veteran group of guys. They’ve been in this league a long time. They know how to play and understand the opportunity.
"They’re not the fastest and quickest guys anymore, but they’re smart and know how to play the game."
For Knicks coach Mike Woodson, it was a big win after his team had lost four games on its Western road swing by an average of 20 points. He had great praise for his veterans, particularly Thomas, who like Kidd, played the entire fourth quarter when the Knicks won the game.
“I gave him the game ball after the game,’’ said Woodson. “I mean, he deserved it. He had played 26 minutes maybe all year and we really didn’t even know if he was going to play tonight. He had three big blocks. It was a total team effort, but Kurt deserved the game ball tonight.’’
Not only are the Knicks the oldest team in the NBA, they are the oldest team in NBA history, according to Stats LLC, with an average age of 32. In contrast, the Jazz only have two players older than 32 in reserve guards Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley.
Besides the aforementioned geezers, the Knicks also got big minutes from 38-year-old Marcus Camby and 35-year-old rookie Pablo Prigioni, who made his first start and contributed in his 20 minutes of play.
The Knicks beat the younger and supposedly more energetic Jazz team in a game that could come back to haunt Utah if it comes up just short of a playoff berth. The Jazz had a chance to move back into the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference standings after the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the lowly Phoenix Suns earlier in the evening, but now they’ll have to try to make up ground on a three-game road trip to Texas starting Wednesday.