We need to play defense different without Rudy (Gobert). It’s kind of obvious in some ways, but kind of subtle in others. —Jazz coach Quin Snyder
NEW YORK — The National Basketball Association consists of 30 professional teams.
All of them have won at least one road game. Can you guess which one hasn’t?
Hint: They’ve dropped five of their last six games. Navy, blue gold and green are their team colors.
If you’re still confused, it’s the injury-plagued Utah Jazz.
Utah (6-8) will face the New York Knicks at 5:30 p.m. tonight in Madison Square Garden as they look to win their first contest outside of Vivint Arena.
The next four games will be played on the road.
“I think for us right now, a good note is to play well and get better,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said during Wednesday’s shootaround. “As far as wins and losses, the best way for us to achieve that right result is to play well and I want to see us continue to build even through a road trip and a period of games where we’re missing some guys that it’s an opportunity for us to grow.”
The Jazz will have to do it without injured big man Rudy Gobert and veteran guard Joe Johnson as they both recover from injuries.
Johnson will be out another two weeks with wrist pain while Gobert is expected to miss at least four weeks with a bone bruise in his knee, but is traveling.
Rookie guard Donovan Mitchell has led the team in scoring the past two games as a starter, averaging 25 points, 3.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field. He also leads all rookies in scoring this month with the most 20-plus point games among first-year players (5). For him, it’s also a homecoming.
Mitchell was raised in Elmsford, Westchester County, New York. His father, Donovan Sr., is the director of player relations and community engagement for the New York Mets.
“I should have about 200 people at the game so I’m excited,” Mitchell said, smiling. “Old friends, mom’s and dad’s coworkers. Anybody ”
New York (7-6) will look to rebound from an epic meltdown Monday night against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. After trailing by 23 points, James used a clutch performance to help Cleveland win 104-101.
Former Jazzman Enes Kanter has been involved in a much-publicized dispute with James. Kanter and Kristaps Porzingis will present many challenges for the Jazz in the frontcourt, but Snyder will rely on Derrick Favors, Jonas Jerebko and Thabo Sefolosha to buckle down on the defensive end without Gobert — the league’s top shot blocker.
“We need to play defense different without Rudy,” Snyder said. “It’s kind of obvious in some ways, but kind of subtle in others.
“If Rudy’s out there for 34 minutes a game, you develop habits playing with a guy and some of those habits have to evolve.”