In Rudy Gobert’s first action since December 13th, the Jazz managed to power through a sub-par performance from rookie sensation and subject of incredibly clever sarcastic praise from the P&T game thread, Donovan Mitchell. They were able to stay ahead of the Knicks thanks to large performances by Gobert, almost-Knick Ricky Rubio, the ageless Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood, who slid into the starting lineup over Joe Ingles and reminded P&Ter felinequickness of Mike Dunleavy’s Knick-killing ways.
But after the half, a switch was flipped and the Knicks buckled down. Kristaps Porzingis was a catalyst, making plays like this:
But it was Tim Hardaway Jr. who truly led the charge for the visiting team. His 31-point game included this critical 4-point play:
He made 6 of his 7 attempts from behind the arch and it was a joy to watch. He adds a spot-up three-point shooting element to the Knicks starting lineup that Courtney Lee has, but not quite to the extent of THJ.
The third and fourth quarters were a prolonged game of cat-and-mouse between the two teams. The Knicks took small leads and the Jazz pulled close but never close enough.
With 32 seconds to play and the score 115-112, THJ missed two potentially game-sealing free throws. For a dude who had completely caught fire, this was weird and probably sent Knicks fans into an uncontrollable tailspin that only could have led to one thought: its happening again, isn’t it?
But it wasn’t. Utah had a frantic, hair-raising sequence of three three-pointers which yielded nothing. They had lost, and the Knicks had squeaked out a game in which Enes Kanter was off and Trey Burke was key. Basketball.
The Knicks stay idle at 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. They’re now two and a half games out of a playoff spot. It also seems that Utah lost this game in the exact type of way the Knicks usually would; lots of sloppy play and an inability to get and maintain leads.
— Tim Hardaway Jr.: Timmy was fantastic in his return to the starting lineup. He scored 31 points on 11-17 from the field and an incredible 6 for 7 from deep. 6 for 7!!
He also added five rebounds and three assists to his line. THJ left a void during his absence and I think this game truly made us see how large that void was. He has become such a dynamic offensive player that he single-handedly adds another dimension to the New York offence. Along with his three-point shooting, he can be effective in the pick-and-roll which is great for a team that has several good offensive bigs.
P&Ter allzingers took the word right out of all of our mouths; ”Timothy. ”
— Kristaps Porzingis: This was sort of a quiet game from KP. He scored only 18 points and grabbed just two rebounds in the game. He added a steal and three blocks to his line.
This play he did was pretty cool:
Kristaps Porzingis welcomes Gobert back!pic.twitter.com/zS2pxadb79— MyNBAUpdate (@MyNBAUpdate) January 20, 2018
Without THJ, I don’t know if the Knicks got enough from KP to win this game. The fact that they did win was a very good sign. Hopefully the return of such a potent offensive force can help truly alleviate KP’s duties and make him feel less tired.
This game was an historic one for KP, however. He joined GOAT-level players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Anthony Davis in being the only players to lead the league in blocks per game while averaging as many as 23.6 points. Nice one, KP!
Kristaps Porzingis leads the NBA in blocks PG (2.36). Only players to lead NBA in blocks PG with as many PPG (23.6) as Porzingis?— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 20, 2018
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Anthony Davis.
Knicks at Jazz, 10:30 ET on ESPN pic.twitter.com/6YXF3XqsHT
— The Wolverine Connection: P&Ter Jon Stephens was sure to point out how good this game was for former Michigan Wolverines THJ and Trey Burke. Burke scored seven points, grabbed two boards and dished two assists in 15 minutes on the floor against the team that drafted him ninth overall in 2013.
The two made it all the way to the National Championship game in 2013, only to lose to Louisville. Speaking of the Cardinals....
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— Donovan Mitchell: He wasn’t himself in this game and that couldn’t possibly have come for a better time for the Knicks. The former Louisville Cardinal went for 17 points on a sub-optimal 7-21 from the field and 3-11 from deep. He did dish out seven assists and grabbed four rebounds, though.
I also thought that this play was cool and wished a Knick would do something like this:
Donovan Mitchell's explosiveness is unruly. pic.twitter.com/I7mAjWHqua— ESPN (@espn) January 20, 2018
— Frank Ntilikina: It was not happening for the rookie tonight. Jeff Hornacek knew it and made the right decision to pull him. This zero point, two turnover performance is going to happen. He’s a rookie. It’s going to be ok.
— Michael Beasley: the Beas continues to be a very valuable Knick. He also only scored ten points today, including this sweet mid-air reverse layup:
He played less minutes than he has been recently which is obviously a direct result of the impact THJ had in his reintroduction to the starting rotation. But the fact they still turned to the Beas for a late crunch-time bucket tells you just how valuable and trusted he has become for this team. He finished with five rebounds and two assists.
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Let’s just hope this type of game isn’t an aberration. The Knicks showed that their roster is deep(ish) and can get them through some subpar games from some of their players. They’ll take this sudden depth to the Staples Centre, where they’ll play the very beatable Lakers at 3:30 PM EST. Let’s hope no secret passageways are needed in this one!