The Knicks made a point last night in Utah. They don’t have one.
A severe lack of leadership from a quality point guard came to the forefront in the fourth quarter as the Knicks lost to the Jazz, 113-104 at Vivint Smart Arena. The Knicks wasted a spectacular effort from Mitchell Robinson who had a monster game with 19 points while tying a career high with 21 rebounds.
The Knicks lost their third in a row, dropped to 0-2 on this difficult, five game, Western road trip and are now a season low, six games under .500 at 24-30 with another game in Denver tonight.
The Knicks went on a 17-0 run in the third quarter to take a 75-68 lead. Julius Randle’s tip in gave the Knicks an 82-70 lead with a little over three minutes left and they held a four point lead after three, 86-82.
In the fourth quarter, the Knicks had some awful offensive possessions and were outscored 31-18 as the Jazz took control of the game. “I thought we played really well for three quarters, and then the start of the fourth, we didn’t play well,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game.
The Knicks had Randle, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Evan Fournier and Alec Burks on the floor in the fourth quarter. A unit that is not exactly loaded with ball handlers and point guards.
Burks had an awful game (2 for 10, 5 points, 1 assist) but his only highlight of the night against his old team was a conventional, three point play that left the Knicks down one, 98-97 with less than five minutes left.
The Knicks committed 6 of their 16 turnovers in the fourth quarter, including three key mistakes in the final 2:30. “Your margin of error on the road is a lot smaller,” Thibodeau said. “I thought our turnovers put them in the open floor and they got easy buckets off of that.”
Knicks were down 100-97 when Evan Fournier lost the ball off of his foot and a Bogan Bogdanovic dunk made it a five point deficit. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell made a three point play with a little over a minute left to snuff out any potential Knicks’ rally.
Games are won and lost at the foul line and the Knicks continued to have their problems as they missed 11 free throws. (24 of 35)
Incredibly, the Jazz did not attempt a free throw in the second half until there was 2:44 left in the fourth quarter, but they canned seven of seven down the stretch to seal the win.
The Knicks continue to compete but they have problems executing down the stretch of games. Thibodeau said, “Intensity is different. Physicality is different. The game is called pretty tight, we had a lot of free throws, they had a lot of free throws. It got real physical, we gotta own our space, we gotta be strong with the ball.”
Knicks were 8 of 33 (24%) from three and were outscored in bench points, 30-11.
Randle’s stat sheet will show he had a good game with 30 points on 10 of 20 shooting with 6 rebounds and 5 assists but he’s still handling the ball way too much and had five more turnovers.
Barrett shot poorly (8/25, 30%) and still scored 23 points with 7 rebounds and a team leading 6 assists, but he hardly saw the ball in the fourth quarter.
Cam Reddish actually got 15 minutes of playing time, including some time in the fourth quarter, and scored 6 points on one field goal and 4 for 4 from the line.