SPORTS

Jazz Continue To Crush Bad Teams In Blowout Over Knicks

Jan 8, 2020, 11:29 PM | Updated: 11:31 pm
Utah Jazz guard Emmanuel Mudiay (8) drives on New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton (6) as the Utah J...
Utah Jazz guard Emmanuel Mudiay (8) drives on New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton (6) as the Utah Jazz and the New York Knicks play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz crushed the New York Knicks 128-104 at Vivint Smart Home Arena Wednesday night, extending their win streak to seven games, and 12 of their last 13. 

The Story

Ideally, the best NBA teams would face off against one another every night they stepped on the floor and true greatness would be on display for the fans to watch. The truth is sometimes opponents like the Knicks, without their two best scorers not in uniform, are one of the two teams to take the floor and instead of being treated to watching the best athletes in the world compete they see one good roster steamroll a bad one. 

That’s what happened when the Jazz faced the Knicks, a game that was over before it started, and for Jazz fans, it’s becoming commonplace. 

The Knicks are 10-28 on the season, owners of the third-worst record in the NBA ahead of only the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors. They’re one of 17 teams in the NBA who have a record below .500 and one of the many teams the Jazz are very casually dismissing when they matchup. 

Since November 20, when the Jazz beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road, the Jazz have won 16 straight games over teams with a record below .500. Overall, the Jazz are 20-3 on the season against teams with a record below .500. 

One could argue the Jazz recent hot streak is largely due to the overwhelming number of bad teams they’ve played on their schedule, but Quin Snyder’s team continues to feast on losing teams, and more than half the team’s in the NBA having a sub .500 record, the Jazz should see their high winning percentage continue throughout much of the remaining schedule. 

Despite the unusual frequency of losing teams finding their way onto the Jazz schedule, Snyder didn’t want to dismiss any of his team’s victories. 

“Record is certainly relevant, it means something, but it’s hard to get wins in the NBA,” Snyder said, “I don’t care who you’re playing against, or what their record is, it’s a tough league and every time you win a game you should feel good about it.”

At their current winning percentage against losing teams, and 25 opponents remaining on the schedule with sub .500 records, the Jazz are on pace to win 21 more games against the bottom 17 teams in the NBA. That would give the team a 41-7 record at season’s end against teams with losing records. 

With the 16-20 San Antonio Spurs currently sitting in the eight-seed in the Western Conference playoff picture, the Jazz would likely finish with a record good enough to make the postseason just off of wins against bad teams alone. 

The Jazz face sub .500 teams in each of their next five games, before playing a stretch of eight winning teams in 12 games. 

While beating bad teams may seem like a given in the NBA, perceived upsets in the NBA are far more common than the Jazz are currently allowing. 

Tuesday night the then 15-22 Portland Trailblazers knocked off the then 25-12 Toronto Raptors on the road. Monday night the 11-25 Washington Wizards knocked off the previously 25-8 Boston Celtics. 

“I think our group’s getting better,” Snyder said, “I told them afterwards I felt like we continued to play the right way throughout the whole game, and they know what that means.”

The Game

After Knicks coach Mike Miller announced 90 minutes before the game started that not only would his team be without Julius Randle, their second-leading scorer, but also their leading scorer Marcus Morris, a blowout seemed inevitable. 

The Jazz made that inevitability a reality and they did it in a hurry building their first double-digit lead just 7:07 into the first quarter. After 12 minutes, the Jazz led 31-21, a lead that climbed to 20 points with 3:37 left in the first half, before setting at 19 at the break. 

“In the first quarter we kind of traded baskets,” Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic said, “Then from the second quarter we started to play our defense, our game, and by the end it was kind of an easy game for us.”

The Jazz began the third quarter with 10 unanswered points to build their lead to 29 and the Knicks never again threatened to make the game close. 

Bogdanovic finished the night tied for a game-high 20 points while adding three rebounds and three assists, earning a loud ribbing from teammate Joe Ingles. 

“Bojan had three rebounds and three assists,” Ingles yelled, teasing the Croatian about his stat line in the Jazz last game when Bogdanovic scored 35 points but failed to record a rebound or an assist. 

 

Bogdanovic was joined in scoring 20 points by reserve guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Facing his former teammates in New York, Mudiay’s 20 points marked a personal high in a Jazz uniform while adding four assists and three rebounds. 

Snyder rode Mudiay’s hot hand through long stretches of the game against his former team, a detail that did not go overlooked by the Jazz guard.

“I approached this game like any other game, my same routine, same rotation,” Mudiay said, “I was expecting [Donovan Mitchell] was going to come back in, but [Snyder] let me go in there and stay, I really appreciate that. That shows what type of guy he is.”

In total, eight Jazz players scored in double figures, including Rudy Gobert (16), Mitchell (16), Tony Bradley (12), Georges Niang (11), Ingles (11), and Jordan Clarkson (11).

The Jazz scored 128 points for their second consecutive outing, tying their season-high for the third time.

The Big Picture

Despite winning seven games in a row, and 12 of their last 13, the Jazz still find themselves on the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff picture. With both the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets winning tonight, the fifth-seeded Jazz stayed a half-game back of Houston, and a full game back of the Nuggets for the second seed. 

The Jazz did pick up a half-game on the dormant Los Angeles Clippers and now sit a full two games ahead of the seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks.  

With the Jazz having played seven of their previous nine games on the road, Snyder was happy to see his starters playing reduced minutes against the Knicks. No Jazz player recorded 30 minutes, and only Royce O’Neale played more than 26.

“Our bench is doing a really good job,” Snyder said, “Jordan [Clarkson’s] addition, he’s able to absorb minutes. With Rayjon [Tucker’s] addition we’ve been able to play him in a window in the second quarter.” 

Clarkson and Tucker combined to play more than 33 minutes against the Knicks, minutes that would have otherwise been placed on Mitchell, Ingles, O’Neale and Mudiay in games past. That’s a major luxury for a team that didn’t have either player on the roster just eight games ago. 

The Jazz host Charlotte Friday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Hornets are just 15-25 on the season and lost to the Jazz 114-107 in late December. 

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