By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Jazz | EnergySolutions Arena
When: Monday | 9:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (31-43): They say basketball is a game of runs, and the first four games of the Knicks' current five-game road trip have done nothing but support that notion. New York has alternated wins and losses, giving up a franchise-record 51 points in a quearter to the Lakers in L.A. and then using a 34-12 2nd quarter to defeat Golden State last night while holding the Warriors to 35 percent shooting. Because of Atlanta's struggles, the Knicks find themselves just one game out of the playoffs with eight left to play.
Utah (23-51): The Jazz, 2-15 in their last 17 games, are ready for the offseason. They'll have big decisions to make, with do-it-all wing Gordon Hayward entering restricted free agency and a likely top-5 draft pick that could shape the future of the organization. In the meantime, coach Ty Corbin will try to get his team to play hard and develop as much as possible. Utah ranks 25th in the NBA in offensive efficiency and 29th on defense, but one bright spot has been rookie point guard Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr.'s teammate at Michigan, who has emerged as a Rookie of the Year candidate
The Numbers Game
The 2nd quarter in Golden State turned last night's game, and perhaps the Knicks' season, around. Down by 10 entering the period, New York turn a 12-point deficit into a 12-point lead with a 15-0 run to close the first half.
Matchup to Watch
Amar'e Stoudemire vs. Enes Kanter
Stoudemire has been a big part of the Knicks' late-season playoff push, and they'll need him to keep up his production down the stretch. Over his last 10 games, he's made a mark on the boards, pulling down just over seven rebounds per game while averaging 17 points. Kanter is still young and developing as an NBA big man, but he's shown a knack for scoring and hitting the glass.
What to Look For
After scoring 19 points in the first half last night in Oakland, J.R. Smith said the key to the Knicks' surge was effort. He joined forces with Hardaway, Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert to turn up the tempo and spark a decisive New York rally. Evergy level will once again be a key factor as the Knicks look to finish the road trip on a high note in the high altitude of Salt Lake City on a back-to-back...Carmelo Anthony spent more time on the bench than usual against the Warriors because of foul trouble, but his teammates stepped up on both ends in his absence...For the Jazz, Burke runs the show out of a similar spread pick-and-roll offense to the one he (and Hardaway) ran in college. Spacing is key, and the Knicks will have to help contain penetration and recover to shooters if they want to head home with a winning record for the trip. The Knicks won the last matchup between these two teams by 27 points at MSG a few weeks ago.