In a truly bizarre game of runs, the Knicks fell behind early, stormed back, then couldn't execute down the stretch in Utah. If any of that surprises you, then you probably haven't been watching this season. As fuhry mentioned in the comments, both teams started the game with torrid offense. The Knicks managed 30 points in the first quarter, but it was the Jazz who really caught fire. In a perfect storm of hot shooting and miserable Knick defense, Utah scored 44 points on 85% (17-20) shooting. Eighty-five percent! The fact that the Knicks ever had a chance to win the game after that first quarter boggles the mind. Anyway, the defense never really picked up, but the Jazz eventually started to miss because it wasn't a videogame, the Knicks got back in it, and the two teams headed to the fourth quarter tied. Competent offense has an early bedtime, though, and both teams went cold to finish the game. Utah was slightly less cold and had the advantage in leadership, so they won.
Some quick notes, after the jump...
- First of all, happy 65th birthday to Walt Frazier. Clyde is the patron saint of this blog, and I just couldn't be more thankful to have the opportunity to hear him work a couple nights a week. And many more, Clyde.
- Clyde got plenty of love from everyone in his vicinity. After Mike Breen wished him happy birthday, the two started into their pre-game conversation, only to be interrupted by Tracy McGrady, who snuck into the frame and gave Clyde his wishes. During a timeout in the first half, the Jazz mascot (who, sources tell me, is a bear, not Kyrylo Fesenko. Would've fooled me.) approached our man flanked by two cheerleaders and presented him with a carrot cake.
- McGrady looked pretty nice in this one, at least on offense. He started well, creating some shots for himself but also finding David Lee a couple times on the pick-and-roll. T-Mac was actually pretty effective into the fourth quarter, and finished with 13, 6, and 4.
- Save for two fast breaks started and finished on his own, Toney Douglas did not do what Toney Douglas do in tonight's game. He simply couldn't hang with Deron Williams on defense and was all but invisible on the offensive end. Off the bench, Sergio Rodriguez did a much better job breaking the Jazz by racing the ball up court.
- Sergio couldn't really handle D-Wil either, though, and Danilo Gallinari got the assignment for much of the second half. Williams had no problem eluding Gallo off the dribble, but The Cock did a pretty solid job recovering and using his height and reach to contest the point guard's attempts. To my eye, Williams looked to create much less off screens in the second half, so it's not necessarily fair to compare Gallo's defense to Toney's, but it sure seemed like the bigger guy did the better job. Williams finished with 23 and 14 after dropping 14 and 8 in the first quarter alone.
- On offense, though, Gallinari suddenly fell victim to the kind of sheepishness we were seeing a few weeks ago. He had no lift on his jumper, never posted up or came to the ball, and hardly dribble once he had it. There was a stretch in the third quarter during which Gallo drew five fouls simply by putting leather to hardwood, and it's frustrating that he's not in that mindset all game every game. Gallo vacillates wildly game by game between attack mode and sleep mode, and it kills me. Get your back up off the wall, Gallo!
- Bill Walker started hot, nailing a couple threes, but fouled his way to the bench. We embrace recklessness at P&T, but we also want to see Walker get as many minutes as possible, so a balance must be struck.
- There was a prolonged stop in the action while somebody dried off the ball, which was apparently abnormally wet. What they didn't tell us was that this was due to the fact that C.J. Miles is an avid aquarist and had just been cleaning the saltwater tank he keeps on the sideline.
- David Lee also had issues with foul trouble, and finished with an underwhelming 16 and 5. Our friend BK points out that such a meager output is a very rare occurrence for Lee.
- Is it possible to buy season tickets to "Walking with Dinosaurs"?
- 26 and 17 for Al Harrington off the bench. Nice game, Albert!
- By the way, my friend who watched the game with me mentioned that at a youth basketball camp he attended, Clyde paid a one-day visit and did live play-by-play for their scrimmages, including the usual rhymes and vocab. I asked my friend if I could purchase that memory from him.
- Final note: the Jazz are SO good without the ball. Their movement off screens and timing of cuts is positively balletic. I want that.
And that is all. The Knicks are back in action on Wednesday in Portland.