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Scenes from DiVincenzo giving the Jazz the blues

Knicks 118, Jazz 103: Donte DiVincenzo hits a career-high for triples, Josh Hart records his first ever triple-double, and Precious Achiuwa contributes 40 superb minutes.

NBAE via Getty Images

Entering tonight’s contest with the visiting Utah Jazz (24-25), the New York Knicks (31-17) had won seven straight and were 13-2 since acquiring OG Anunoby. OG missed his second consecutive game due to elbow inflammation, and there was speculation about how the shorthanded Knicks would perform on the second night of a back-to-back.

Nothing to worry about, folks.

The Knicks faced an early deficit, but a rain of Donte DiVincenzo triples, a bunch of Isaiah Hartenstein rebounds, and Precious Achiuwa’s solid play helped them take a halftime lead, 57-49. Post-intermission, it was a bloodbath. All five starters would finish with double-digit points. DiVo would rack up 33 points on a career-best nine three-pointers, and commit four steals (and no turnovers). Josh Hart would record his first career triple-double (10/10/10). Isaiah Hartenstein logged a 14/12 double-double. Precious Achiuwa stood tall against a big Jazz frontcourt. Jalen Brunson netted 29 points and nine dimes. And Quentin Grimes added 12 points, six boards, two assists, and a steal with the reserves.

Does it get any better than that? Not often. New York would close January with a 14-2 record. Final score, 118-103.

First Half

Last night in Charlotte, the Knicks fell behind 9-5 in the first three minutes and Tom Thibodeau needed a quick timeout. Different team, same story, as the Jazz jumped ahead 10-5 tonight. Yesterday, the Knicks made only four of their first 12 shots; tonight they did exactly the same. Against the Hornets, Donte DiVincenzo scored ten first-quarter points en route to 28; this evening, he scored 11 in the first frame, shooting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and adding two steals.

Collin Sexton plays for the Jazz. I hope he teams up with Dillon Brooks one day. In China.

Utah’s six first-quarter turnovers and a tightening of the Knicks’ defense allowed New York to attain the lead around the quarter’s midway point. They would close the first 12 minutes up, 29-22.

Quentin Grimes contributed solid minutes early. He logged seven points and five rebounds but turned his ankle and/or ankle around the eight minute mark in Q2 and sat out the remainder of the half. Fortunately, he returned to the court after halftime.

Jericho Sims may be a laconic lad but showed no shyness about embarrassing Walker Kessler on this dunk.

DiVincenzo had left blisters on the basketball by halftime. His 19 points (incl. five three-pointers) led the team. The shorthanded Knicks needed contributions from everyone, and that included Precious Achiuwa, in his second start as a Knick. Achiuwa once again delivered excellent minutes. In his first 20 minutes, he scored 11 points and played big defense against the large Jazz frontcourt.

The Knicks entered intermission ahead, 57-49. In the first half, Sexton had ten points for the Jazz. Utah is the league’s second-best rebounding team, but New York owned the glass (25-22), led by nine boards from Isaiah Hartenstein. The Knicks had won the battle for points in the paint (28-18) and fastbreak points (11-7).

One note of concern: DiVo’s teammates had shot 1-of-7 from downtown. Luckily for them, the Jazz shot about as poorly, making eight of 22 attempts. Here’s your first-half shot chart:

Second Half

The Jazz started the second half on an 8-2 run, but the Knicks countered that with an 11-0 stretch, due to a defensive clampdown and some familiar heroics by Jalen Brunson. Through three quarters, Utah had been hounded into 12 turnovers, and before they knew it, they’d fallen behind by 20, and then 25. Frustration abounded on the Utah side, with their confounded coach Will Hardy getting dinged for technical. His team was outscored in the quarter, 36-24.

Thibs employed an eight-man roster through the first three and a half quarters. Next man up? Absolutely. They might not be a ‘big three’ by anyone’s measure, but Jalen, Donte, and Hart harmonized beautifully this evening. They carried a 93-73 lead into the final frame.

To start Q4, DiVincenzo swished his eighth three-pointer, a new career-high. He would finish the game with nine.

New York committed five turnovers in the game, and only two in the second half. Their defense limited Lauri Markkanen, who averages 23 points a game, to only 14. Brunson and Hart combined for 19 assists. Aside from some bricky shooting in the first half, the Knicks treated the Madison Square Garden faithful to a beautiful basketball game and their eighth straight win.

Two Jazz players have been rumored to be of interest to the Knicks. The first, Jordan Clarkson, scored 11 points and a plus/minus of -19. The other, Kelly Olynyk, scored one point, five rebounds, and was a -16. Do with that what you will.

Up Next

The Indiana Pacers come to town on Thursday. God, I love these Knicks. Sleep sweet, ‘Bockers.

Box Score