By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Jazz | EnergySolutions Arena
When: Monday | 10:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Facing the team they dominated at home just over a week ago, the Knicks look to pick up a win in the final game of a five-game road trip after losing the first four. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler have missed the last two games with knee injuries, and their statuses for tonight are questionable, as well. In their absence, different Knicks have stepped up for stretches, but again the competition on this trip, they've been unable to sustain a level that leads to wins.
Utah: The Jazz stood pat at the trade deadline, opting to make a playoff push rather than deal either of their big expiring contracts (Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson) and look toward the future. It's looking like that may not have been the smartest decision. They are currently out of the Western Conference playoff picture, one game behind the surging Lakers, and remain unlikely to re-sign both big men this summer. They've won three games in their last 11, and Knicks fans will remember the 29-point drubbing they took at the Garden right before the Knicks embarked on this road trip.
Last Time Out
New York: The shorthanded Knicks hung with the Clippers, but ultimately lost, 93-80, in a Sunday matinee at Staples.
Utah: The Jazz notched an impressive win over Memphis on Saturday, 90-84.
The Numbers Game
Despite having a handful of good outside shooters, the Jazz are 27th in the NBA in three-pointers attempted. The Knicks, shooting the 3 at a 37 percent clip, take the second-most attempts in the league.
Matchup to Watch
Chris Copeland vs. Gordon Hayward
This is just asking for the Matchup to Watch jinx. If Melo plays, Copeland's minutes are likely to decrease, but he's proven to be an effective scorer when he gets the call. Against the Clippers, he played over 25 and had 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, and the Knicks went to him quite a bit, especially at the beginning of both halves. He attacked Caron Butler with success, showing the confidence and sweet stroke that earned him a spot in the starting lineup. The 6-foot-8 Hayward is a good defender with length to bother Cope on the perimeter and has a similar scorer's mentality on offense.
What to Look For
This is the final game of a frustrating road trip and comes on the second night of a back-to-back, so clearly the Knicks hope to salvage a W before they fly home and put this stretch behind them. If neither Melo nor Chandler play, we could see the same starting lineup for the third consecutive game: Felton, Shumpert, Copeland, Martin and Thomas. We've seen Chandler's impact felt in his absence -- the Knicks have sturggled to contain penetration down the lane without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and they miss what he brings to the pick-and-roll as a threat to finish lobs above the rim. As they showed the last time they played Utah and have demonstrated since their All-Stars went down, they are capable of spacing the floor, moving the ball and getting good shots. That will be crucial to their success tonight.