Knicks Steamroll Jazz To Close Road Trip
Jan 30, 2024, 8:30 PM | Updated: Jan 31, 2024, 10:45 am
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz were flattened by the New York Knicks 118-103 as they finished their six-game road trip with a 2-4 record.
Collin Sexton led the Jazz with 22 points who with the loss fell to 24-25 on the season.
The Knicks were led by Donte DiVincenzo who scored 33 points.
Jazz Finish Difficult Road Trip
The Jazz entered their season-high six-game road trip having won 15 of 20 games as they climbed back into the Western Conference Playoff picture.
However, their momentum hit a brick wall with back-to-back losses in Houston and New Orleans to open the trip before closing with consecutive blowout losses to the Brooklyn Nets and the Knicks.
The Jazz now return to Salt Lake City where they will play eight of their next nine games as the look to get the train back on the tracks.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to go home and get back to work,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “We’ve got some trends lately that aren’t very good.”
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 31, 2024
Unfortunately, the road ahead doesn’t look easy.
The Jazz open the home-heavy stretch with games against the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Oklahoma City Thunder before traveling to Phoenix to face the surging Suns.
They then return home to critical meetings against the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Warriors again as they head into the All-Star break, three games that will carry significant weight in the Western Conference postseason race.
“It’s not something that I’m panicking about,” Hardy added. “I’m excited that we get to head home and have a practice and just get back to work to do some of the things that are hard to do when you’re on a long road trip.”
A few wins upon their return to Utah will go a long way to restoring the Jazz’s momentum, but after three blowout losses on the road, the wind is no longer at their backs.
Knicks Have Rebuilt From Middle Out
The Jazz saw the full spectrum of NBA roster building during their six-game road trip.
The Rockets have opted to rebuild through the lottery by winning 22 games or fewer in each of their last three seasons. They’ve improved this year, but only after overpaying for mid-level veterans in free agency.
The Pelicans traded a superstar in Anthony Davis for a young player in Brandon Ingram, then lucked out in the lottery by drafting Zion Williamson.
The Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets are in the process of deconstruction their rosters for rebuilds, while the Nets and Knicks are trying to rebuild from the middle out.
Of the six, the Knicks appear to have done the best job to date and may be a legitimate threat to make the Eastern Conference Finals this season.
Credit Leon Rose for recognizing the Knicks identity with Thibodeau as head coach and just loading the roster with his types of guys.
Big bodies who defend their position well, and they’ve done it with little trades here and there, no major superstar swings.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) January 31, 2024
What’s most impressive about the Knicks roster building is that they’ve managed to do it without making any all-in moves, both building a winner, while maintaining significant flexibility in the future.
After Tuesday’s win, the Knicks have won 14 of 16 games, and own the league’s best defensive rating in the stretch.
Even without Mitchell Robinson and OG Anunoby, two of the Knicks’ better defenders on the floor against the Jazz, they held the league’s second-best offensive over the last month to just 103 points.
watch for the block! 😤
stay for the finish! pic.twitter.com/JHsuoF4erM
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 31, 2024
Knicks president Leon Rose made smart acquisitions in Isaiah Hartenstein, Donte DiVincenzo, and Jalen Brunson in free agency, and savvy trades for Tom Thibodeau-type players in Josh Hart and OG Anunoby to surround Julius Randle with players that will compliment his unique skillset.
And, armed with the $18 million expiring contract of Evan Fournier, young talent in Quinten Grimes, and a slew of future first-round picks, they can add more talent to a team that will be a tough out in the playoffs.
While every rebuild across the NBA looks different, the Knicks are showing that teams don’t have to fall to the bottom of the standings before reemerging as contenders, and it’s a process Jazz fans should watch closely.
Utah Jazz Next Game
The Jazz will face the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday at 8 pm MST in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on TNT.
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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.
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