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Knicks 106, Jazz 101: ‘Knee to the butt bone’

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The Knicks won, and Courtney Lee’s butt is unhurt.

Utah Jazz v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

I had to work on both Monday and Wednesday nights, which meant two consecutive Knicks games on replay. The Knicks may have won Wednesday’s contest with the Utah Jazz, but in all honesty the highs could never match what we saw in Monday’s game against the Cavs. In contrast to the rollicking, emotionally-charged ball we saw against LeBron James and Co., the Knicks appeared sluggish and disinterested at times, particularly on defense, and especially particularly guarding the dreaded three-ball.

Fortunately, the ‘Bockers also left fans with the warmer, fuzzier feeling of a victory on Wednesday, erasing a double-digit second-half deficit with a strong fourth quarter from Tim Hardaway, Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina. It wasn’t always pretty, but they all count the same in the win column.

Notes:

—He may not be the best player on the club—nor is he supposed to be—but Tim Hardaway Jr. is the Knicks’ king of chaos. When the game gets weird, Timmy is usually at his best...especially when the pace starts to rise. He showed off his chaos chops again in the fourth, scoring 14 points in the quarter on a combination of pretty finishes and wild jumpers off broken plays at the end of the shot clock. Tim also led the team in assists with 6.

I’m happy to see he got his moment in the sun—for one of the most laughable free agent signings of the offseason, Timmy has been low-key excellent for the Knicks since his disastrous first three games. To wit, he is now averaging 17.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists (!!!) per game, making him one of only 22 players in the entire NBA to average at least 17, 4 and 3. That’ll do.

—Every time Kristaps Porzingis has an off shooting night—which has happened twice in a row now—fans will freak out about his elbow. He didn’t look quite right on Wednesday, but still came away with 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks because he is the Unicorn and that’s what unicorns do. The elbow warrants monitoring, however.

—Frank Ntilikina shares many qualities in common with P&T legend Pablo Prigioni—coming over from European leagues, a slow release on the jumper, an utter disdain for taking his own shot over passing to the a teammate, and now the sneaking.

We always used to lament that the Knicks didn’t have Pablo when he was in his twenties. What if Frank is the basketball gods’ way of balancing out the universe?

—I. Love. Doug. Mc. Dermott. Jeff Hornacek erred greatly by forgetting to play McBuckets in the fourth quarter against Cleveland; I believe Doug had a much better chance of sticking with Kyle Korver. Well he corrected his mistake on Wednesday, playing McDermott essentially all of the fourth. And wouldn’t you know...it worked! McDermott didn’t find the range from three, but his defense was once again critical in stopping Utah’s three-point onslaught.

—Jazz head coach Quin Snyder helped out the Knicks by going with a small lineup in the fourth, forcing Hornacek to go with KP at the 5. Or maybe Horny figured out on his own that it was the best lineup? Hopefully it was the latter.

Courtney Lee was magnificent throughout—19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists—but came up lame in the fourth quarter. Fear not, Knicks fans: It was simply a case of the ol’ “knee to the butt bone.”

The Knicks head out on the road now to face a hot Toronto Raptors team. That should be a tough test. Let’s get it.