Early in tonight's broadcast of the Knicks versus Utah, MSG showed footage of Derek Fisher's time as a player for the Jazz, focusing on the emotional return Fisher made to a Utah playoff game after his year-old daughter had surgery for cancer behind her eye. Kenny Albert casually mentioned how Fisher then went on to return to the Lakers, totally glossing over the ugliness that erupted from an enraged Jazz fan base toward Our Fearless Leader. Basically, Albert dug up an indigenous burial ground and dumped the bodies in the pet cemetery off the highway on the edge of town where the dead come back to life, then built a white picket-fence suburb on top of the old burial ground. The Knicks were cursed. And they played like it.
New York fell behind fast and hard. Their offense was all sloppy passes and bumbled passes, the defense a curious, constant compulsion to continually go under screens and give up threes that the Jazz kept hitting. Utah got any and all penetration they wanted, off the dribble or off the pass. If the shot clock for this game had been 12 seconds instead of 24, the Knicks might've had a chance. This play at the end of the half -- off a Knick basket, for Christ's sake -- sums the night up.
- It was 29-11 Utah after the first quarter, the Knicks' low for points in a quarter this year. Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis combined to open 1 of 9 from the field while the rest of the Knicks began at a blistering 28% (4-14 FGs).
- Lowest point of the night #1: trailed 38-11 in the second quarter, the Knicks were 5 of 25 from the field, getting out-rebounded 20-12, and had two assists versus three turnovers. Utah had 11 assists and no turnovers, along with a 32-12 advantage on points in the paint.
- Lowest point of the night #2: In the third, the Knicks fell behind 70-37. That 33-point deficit is their biggest of the year so far.
- After all the Melo/officiating talk, Anthony didn't exactly come out and force the issue, which I thought he may have been setting up, what with 26-year-old rookie ref Gediminas Petraitis working the game. He did get to the line seven times in 26 minutes, but he set the tone settling for jumpers early. By the time he got to the charity stripe, it didn't matter.
- Porzingis came out launching. Hit his first shot off a nice Triangle set. That was the high point of his night. He missed everything after that, committed one of those perimeter fouls he gets one or two of every night, and never got in a groove.
- Your Adam Silver Lining of the Night: Porzingis only played 13 minutes. S'all about the big picture...
- Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward: 17-27 for 44 points. Carzingis: 5-19 for 16.
- I love watching these Jazz play. After Golden State, they're my "ooh they're on TV tonight!" team of this season. They really look like a team, play like five-as-one on both ends. They're like one of those kids who grow up in a family that's so loving and together the functionality actually looks dysfunctional 'cuz so many families aren't anywhere near so functional. Like, I feel like the only reason the Jazz can assemble this exact team is because they play in an enchanted gumdrop forest. Or a cursed indigenous graveyard. Tomato, tomahto.
- I wish I played in the NBA so I could experience firsthand whatever it is that makes Utah such a difficult place to play. For literally decades, going back to the Salt Palace, games in Utah are just a different animal than other arenas.
- At the nadir of last summer's pre-draft rumor mongering, I feared the Knicks' big haul would be Trey Lyles, who ended up on the Jazz. I wanted whichever player had the highest upside, which turned out, luckily, to be KP. But Lyles did look and sound like a guy who could be a solid contributor on a real team, and here he is starting for an ascendant team out west. Six points, 10 boards for the rook.
- Sasha Vujacic had 10 points, 7 assists, and three steals, playing a team-high 27 minutes. He also shhh'd the crow in the fourth, long after the loss was cemented, after missing the first of two free throws but hitting the second, depriving those in attendance of free Chik-Fil-A.
- Apparently they take their free chicken giveaways pretty seriously in Salt Lake City.
Flagrant two by Rodney Hood. Ejected immediately. Vujacic missed the first free throw again. "He's gonna really hear it now," Walt Frazier chuckled. "They want some chicken, baby!" Sasha hit the second. He lost the battle tonight. Not the war. Lou Amundson, non-free throw shooter extraordinaire, lost the fowl war at the foul line late in the fourth. His second attempt was an airball that, even by airball standards, was wretched.
- It's Langston Galloway's birthday. Happy birthday, Langston!
This was, as Philluminati put it, "like ice cubes on your genitals," only in a bad way. Rightlight called it early: "Tonight feels like a Lou Amundson 15 minute game." And it did, early and often (Lou ended up playing 10). This was the Knicks' third straight loss and fifth in their last seven games. Fair to say this is their first gut-check of the year? Tomorrow night's a TNT broadcast in Sacramento. Marv Albert, Chris Webber, and (speaking of gut-check), a certain rotund blowhard Knick-hater will be calling the game. Come get some!