The sting from Monday night’s deflating defeat against the Cavaliers was still being felt by the Knicks in the first half of their game against Utah last night.
It was like “All That Jazz” was making a second run on Broadway but the site was 33rd and 8th and the Utah Jazz had a hit show that couldn’t miss, particularly their shots from three as the Knicks trailed 60-50 at halftime. “We just knew that we had to come out with more energy and more hunger and that’s what we did in the second half,” Kristaps Porzingis said, and boy, did they ever.
The Knicks continued their habit of rallying from double digit, second half deficits as they came from 12 down to silence the Jazz, 106-101 at the Garden. It was the third time in the last ten days that the Knicks came from double digits down to win.
Utah led by 12 with a little over five minutes left in the third quarter but the Knicks outscored the Jazz 43-26 the rest of the way to secure their eighth win their last 11 games.
Tim Hardaway is developing into a very nice second option behind Porzingis as he scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter including a “dagger” three point shot with 32.9 seconds left. “I just shot it with confidence and thankfully it went in,” Hardaway said. The 25-year old is thriving in his second stint in New York and he’s become a more complete player. “You mix his shooting ability, his athleticism to get to the basket, then the way he’s playing defense and scrambling and doing that stuff is a big reason why we’re winning some of these games,” Knicks’ Coach Jeff Hornacek acknowledged after the game.
Both the team and the crowd was finding it hard to match the emotion from Monday night and it showed on the court as the Jazz found the range from beyond the arc and the Knicks couldn’t find the defense to stop it. Utah shot 56% from three in the first half to build that ten point lead. Hornacek felt Utah was dictating tempo. “In the first half, we were reacting to what they were doing instead of making them do kinda what we wanted to,” he said.
The necessary adjustments were made and the Knicks were able to limit Utah to 41% from three point range in the third and fourth quarters. On Monday night, the Knicks gave up 43 points in the fourth quarter. Last night, they gave up 41 for the entire second half. “Second half we got up more into their legs,” the head coach said. “We put pressure on them, made ‘em make some dribbles to try and make that shot. Consequently we got some stops.”
Porzingis, who scored a pedestrian 22 points, hit a huge three pointer to give the Knicks a 99-93 lead late in the fourth quarter. After the Jazz missed on the ensuing possession, the Knicks had the ball and a chance to run the clock but Hardaway launched an ill advised three pointer. Utah eventually made it a one point lead but this time, the Knicks were able to finish, but don’t think Hornacek didn’t take notice of the poor shot selection down the stretch. “Free throws are just as good,” he said. If you can take it inside and you put pressure on ‘em and you can get to the free throw line, that’s an easy way to finish out games too.”
Kyle O’Quinn gave the Knicks some strong minutes off the bench and Courtney Lee scored 19 points and played his usual solid defense. The only downer was that Lee appeared to injure his hamstring late in the game. After the game, the Knicks’ guard said his hamstring was cramping and that he would be fine for Friday’s game at Toronto.
Rookie guard Frank Ntlikina continues to develop nicely as he canned a couple of big shots in the fourth quarter and played the final 13 minutes of the game despite having four personal fouls. Enes Kanter chipped in with 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting while Doug McDermott grabbed a season high seven rebounds off the bench. The Knicks outrebounded Utah 33-28 and were dominant in “second chance points” with a 21-3 edge.