Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks were humbled on Wednesday night by the Utah Jazz.
The Knicks struggled to get anything going offensively early, while the Jazz couldn’t seem to miss on their home floor. New York trailed by 18 points after the first quarter, and that was too much to overcome on the road.
“I think we have some guys that are continuing to show some fight and do some things even though it’s been tough the last few nights,” D-Fish said. “The only thing we can take from tonight is that we’ve just got to continue to respect the game and making sure we’re still approaching this as though we’re not that good yet. We have to really think of this as though we’re still working extremely hard to become good.”
The starting five for D-Fish had a difficult time generating points against the Jazz. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 12 points in his 26 minutes on the floor to go along with five boards and a couple assists.
Jose Calderon finished the game with nine points, which was second best among New York’s starters, and two assists. Generating opportunities was also problem for the Knicks as their starting unit finished the night with only six assists.
Gordon Hayward guided the Jazz with 20 points of 9-of-14 shooting, including a 4-of-4 mark from three-point range. Derrick Favors did some damage as well, going 8-of-13 form 20 points. Hayward hit three times from beyond the arc in the first quarter, and the Jazz led 29-11 after one quarter.
That Utah lead reached 32 in the second quarter before the Knicks chipped their way back. New York didn’t score until a Porzingis layup at the 9:03 mark of the second. The Jazz lead reached 32 in the quarter before the Knicks chipped their way back with a 9-2 run to end the first half.
The reserves took over in the third quarter. Sasha Vujacic and Kyle O’Quinn each had five points in the third quarter to help the Knicks knock the deficit down to 17.
Vujacic scored 10 points while also dishing out more assists than the starters combined with seven. O’Quinn finished the night with nine points and was the team’s leading rebounder with six in 16 minutes of action..
“There’s a level of professionalism that comes with guys that haven’t been playing then come in and are really just competing hard and laying everything on the line,” Derek said. “What jumps out is you is that the difference between some guys that are out there before Sasha goes in or Kyle goes in a game like tonight and when they are on the floor just a different level of level of activity and energy and that’s what we have to continue to search for.”
That second unit stayed on the floor throughout the fourth. Lou Amundson led the way with 10 points while seven Knicks scored in the final frame. However, it was too little too late for New York in the defeat.
Tonight the Knicks will be in Sacramento for the second leg of a back-to-back as they continue their three game west coast trip. These types of games reveal a lot about a team’s makeup in Fisher’s opinion, and he will be taking notice of how his guys respond during this stretch where things aren’t going the way everybody envisions.
“This is where you find out what you’re made of. It’s easy to hold your head up and poke your chest out and tell everybody how great you are when it’s going well, but you really find out what you’re made of when things aren’t going so well,” D-Fish explained. “The guys that are interested in strapping up and going hard and working harder and getting better…those are they guys we want.”
The Kings (8-15) had lost three straight before defeating the Jazz 114-106 on Tuesday behind 13 assists from Rajon Rondo. New York (10-13) will look to end its own three-game skid tonight and get back on track before they wrap up the west coast trip against the Portland Trailblazers (9-12) on Saturday.
Tonight’s game will tipoff at 10:30 p.m. EST from Sleep Train Arena and will be nationally televised on TNT.