Karl Malone was back from the flu, but Jeff Hornacek was left home with a sore knee and John Stockton got three fouls and a technical before the Utah Jazz even hit double figures in scoring in the first quarter Sunday afternoon in Madison Square Garden.
No matter.The Jazz bided their time, fell behind by as many as eight points, then took the lead for good (59-58) on two Stockton baskets late in the third quarter and, with their bench doing much of the work, ran off with a 94-82 preseason victory over the Knicks.
Utah moved its preseason record to 3-2 with its next two games on the road against the Indiana Pacers Tuesday and Wednesday. New York fell to 2-3 with its third straight loss.
The game was the home exhibition-season debut for new Knick coach Don Nelson, taking over for Pat Riley.
"It was a disappointment to everybody," Nelson told Associated Press. "We hit rock bottom, which I think this team has to do. We were embarrassed here."
Nelson's attempt to rearrange the Knicks' offense this season to one with more running met with boos from the MSG crowd, displeased at 37 percent shooting from the field.
It was Utah's second straight win over New York, which lost 89-86 Thursday in the Delta Center in a sloppy game without either Malone or Patrick Ewing.
Sunday in New York, Ewing was back and led all scorers with 18 points, often played straight-up, 1-on-1 with decent success by Jazz rookie center Greg Ostertag, who got four fouls in the third quarter to foul out after a 3-for-6 offensive performance.
Ewing's points came on 4-for-15 shooting from the field, and he played 37 minutes.
Malone, who scored 17 and led Utah with 10 rebounds, sat out the fourth quarter, as did Stockton, who was replaced at point guard mainly by Howard Eisley with Jamie Watson playing more shooting guard.
Thursday, the Knicks' John Starks had taken advantage of Watson's attempt to become a point guard, stealing the ball from him off the dribble several times.
Starks played 34 minutes and shot 2-for-12 from the field. Anthony Mason, supposed to handle the ball more and become more of a threat in Nelson's offense, played 47 minutes but was 1-for-4.
After leading 67-61 at the end of the third period, Utah doubled its lead to 12 points (77-65) - the Jazz's second team beating up on the Knicks' starters - on a jumper by Adam Keefe, who finished with 14 points, his preseason high. An Eisley 16-foot shot with 4:29 left ran the lead to 16 points.
The Knicks then scored eight in a row and Keefe fouled out on a Charles Oakley basket, but two Bryon Russell free throws and a layup at the buzzer by Andy Toolson elevated the finish to 12 points.
"It was one of those exhibition games that you have some good and some bad," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan told AP. "We just have to continue to play hard every day, and we'll see what happens."
Russell, said by many Jazz observers to be playing some of the best basketball on the team this preseason in an attempt to keep his spot with the club, was 4-for-5 on both field goals and free throws for 12 points. David Benoit, who had 19 points Thursday, was only 1-for-7 from the field and scored four points Sunday.
For the Knicks, Charles Oakley had his strongest offensive game (17 points, 6-for-11) and a game-high 11 rebounds, though the Jazz outrebounded the Knicks 48-34. Derek Harper led all scorers with 19 points, 7-for-11.
When the Jazz bus arrived at the Garden Sunday morning, Utah players and coaches were met by picketing, locked-out NBA referees, including Steve Javie, who handed them leaflets and showed them signs that read, "Scab refs are dangerous to players' careers."