NEW YORK — The Utah Jazz beat the New York Knicks, 108-93, Sunday night at Madison Square Garden as Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson combined for 59 points.
- When you need guys who can just make buckets, it’s pretty nice to have Mitchell and Clarkson on your team. They are just such incredible offensive players and on nights when they are making tough shots and doing it in a number of ways, while also competing on the defensive end and fighting for boards and making great passes, they just look a cut above the rest and it’s not really close. Mitchell was phenomenal from 3 against the Knicks (going 7 of 12) and Clarkson only made a single 3-pointer but he grinded from the inside through traffic.
- I’ve written quite a bit about patience recently and there was reason again on Sunday to point it out. Sometimes it does not look pretty — like when Clarkson pump-fakes 10 times before actually getting an open look, or when Rudy Gay pass fakes and swings his arms around with the ball five times before going up. But it doesn’t have to look pretty! It can be as ugly as it needs to be as long as it’s effective. If a player gets stuck and they are getting trapped or hounded sometimes all it takes is some basic pivots and fakes and they can get the space they need to get an open look.
“That’s sometimes the pace I have to play at. If I’m able to read what the defense is doing — using ball fakes, shot fakes — that usually frees up myself or causes somebody else to have to do something. So just trying to stay patient and play aggressive.” — Jordan Clarkson
- When Royce O’Neale is willing and aggressive with the ball, the Utah Jazz are a better team. Period. He needs to take every open look that he gets. He’s a 41% 3-point shooter and he needs to act like it. He doesn’t always, but he did against the Knicks (save a couple of times, but nobody is perfect) and it paid off in the form of a well-rounded 14-point, five-rebound game for O’Neale.
“I tell him to shoot it every time he touches it.” — Donovan Mitchell
- This wasn’t the cleanest game for the Jazz, but there wasn’t much that they did wrong either. There were some really good moments on the defensive end (a season-high in blocks for the team with 11) and some really impressive passing and cutting performances. Then, when the Knicks cut the game down to low single digits in the fourth quarter, the Jazz played composed throughout the home stretch and made sure that the game wasn’t in question. Pretty much everyone did their job, and did it right. That’s pretty good.
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- The Jazz take a lot of euro-fouls (some call them take fouls — the ones that they purposefully use to stop a fast break). That’s meant a lot of clear path foul reviews for the Jazz. Something I’ve been worried about recently is something that the Knicks tried to do, and succeeded in once — just getting the ball into the air when they see a Jazz player coming to make the euro-foul, earning them an easy three free throws. If teams know that the Jazz utilize the euro-foul, it could be a trend that we start to see. Something to keep an eye on.
- Bojan’s Bogdanovic (sidelined with a left calf strain) was wearing a beautiful green track suit, but I was immediately out on the outfit when I saw that instead of drawstrings in the hoodie and the waistband, there were like handkerchiefs instead. I do not even pretend to be a fashion expert but I like to think I have a bit of an eye for style and Bogdanovic is usually an incredibly clean dresser, but those handkerchief strings were objectively horrible.
- Once again shorthanded (no Bogdanovic, Mike Conley rested, Trent Forrest out with a right wrist sprain, Danuel House out with a left knee bone bruise), some of the shine from the last few games with Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jared Butler started to wear off and you could feel that the Jazz weren’t at full strength. I feel like the Jazz actually acquitted themselves pretty well despite some of the struggles of the players that have stepped up in recent days. It’s just a reminder that even if some of the low-usage players have good games, it’s the Jazz’s most experienced and most effective players that they’ll need in the long run.
- So frustrating to see the Jazz cough up turnovers and lose a fast break possession because the guy leading the break is stripped by an opposing player that is trailing. I asked Mitchell if it’s a fair criticism to say that the Jazz need to call “wolf” to their teammates so it doesn’t happen so often.
“Yeah, it is, but it isn’t. Because sometimes the ball handler doesn’t hear. As much as you want to scream it and yell it, sometimes it’s loud. There’s so many factors that go into it. And sometimes when you’re the ball handler you’re not listening to what’s behind you...So, you know, it’s tough.” — Donovan Mitchell
- The New York Knicks are paying Julius Randle $20 million a year. That’s it. That’s the note.