The New York Knicks ended their road trip out West with a disappointing loss to the Utah Jazz. The Knicks looked sharp and tidy in the first half but seemed an entirely different team later in the game. Austin Rivers (25 points), and Royce O’Neale (20 points) led the scoring for their respective teams. Here are the highlights and takeaways of the Jazz blowout of the Knicks that ended 94-108.
New York put on a show in Salt Lake City with a dominant first half. They were able to force difficult shots and were producing offensively. Donovan Mitchell struggled to rack up points, finishing with just nine points on three of fifteen shooting. Utah was down by 15 points at their worst in the first half.
Austin Rivers played a tremendous first half finishing with 25 points on 10 for 10 shooting. He was a bright spot when the rest of the team struggled. The 28-year-old shooting guard was able to carry the load as Julius Randle dealt with foul trouble. RJ Barrett also played an impressive first half. The sophomore out of Duke was able to spread the floor successfully as he consistently converted from behind the arc. Barrett, now averaging just over 15 points per game, has looked very impressive this season and has shined under Thibodeau.
The Knicks entered the second half with a 13 point lead over the hosts. However, Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert quickly cut that lead down and were able to finally take the lead shortly before the end of the third quarter. The intensity level of the Knickerbockers seemed to lower as the Jazz began to improve. In the fourth quarter, everything fell to pieces as Tom Thibodeau‘s discombobulated side failed to succeed on either side of the court. Rudy Gobert dominated in the paint, finishing with 18 points and 19 rebounds. These Knicks looked very different than the ones fans have seen this season where they refuse to give up until the final buzzer. Tonight, it seemed all hope was lost long before then.
Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks Disappoint
Two poor performances tonight came from the likes of Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks. Quickley shot a ghastly one of 11 with six points to finish off the road trip. He couldn’t find a rhythm offensively and didn’t look like the same confident self. After a brilliant display against the Trailblazers on Sunday, many expected him to follow suit with a similar performance. However, it was far from it as he played one of his worst games this season. Nonetheless, he was still given good minutes as the coaching staff has recognized the importance of the rookie playing through his rough patches.
Alec Burks had a similar performance as he simply couldn’t get his shots to fall. Finishing three of 14 with nine points, the 29-year-old played an uncharacteristically dismal performance. Burks is a crucial part of this Knicks side and it is crucial to have him play well to win games.
The Knicks Remain Vulnerable Defensively
The Knicks have counted on their defense to win games this season. Without much offensive fire-power and a coach who values defense more than anything, having good defensive games is crucial to winning. Tonight, rebounding was the Knicks’ enemy against the Jazz and they’ll need to learn to contain stronger big-men like Rudy Gobert if they wish to snag a ticket to the play-in games. Without a consistently strong offensive player, the Knicks will need to perform better defensively to win games.
The Knicks head back to Madison Square Garden to end their away trip with a game against Collin Sexton and the Cavaliers. They’ll hope to snap their three-game losing streak to a Cavs side that has looked very impressive as of late. Friday night will be an important night for New York if they wish to get back on track this season.