Phil Jackson hasn’t even got here yet and the team is already playing better. In all seriousness, the Knicks vowed to build on their Timberwolves win and did just that in completely dominating the Utah Jazz for a 108-81 blowout victory. There were several key contributions, namely Melo’s season-high 8 assists, that made this game an easy one almost from the opening tip.
CAREER-HIGH START: The Knick burst out the gate with 39 points in the first quarter (season-high) on 70%shooting. As usual, Carmelo Anthony lead the barrage with 18 points, including a nifty four-point play. More impressive than his scoring, Melo made sure to move the ball quickly out of double teams and fed the hot hand (JR Smith). This lead to everyone being more active on defense as the Jazz were held to 22 points.
NO LET UP: The second unit of Prigioni, Hardaway Jr., Tyler, Clark, and Shumpert gave up an 11-4 run to start the second. Luckily, the Knicks had built a decent cushion. Once Melo, Stat and Chandler returned, the domination resumed. Stoudemire showed defensive competency in drawing a charge on Richard Jefferson and blocking Derrick Favors at the rim. Felton was finding Chandler at will for alley oops. And Melo had a constant smirk on his face over the fact Jefferson was trying to guard him. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Knicks had a 60-41 score lead by Melo’s 22 points and 5 assists.
EXTENDED GARBAGE TIME: The Jazz hung around for the early part of the third but never got it to single digits. Melo continued torching Jefferson, and Chandler ran amuck with dunks and controlled the boards (16 points, 11 rebounds). Outside of Felton, every starter hit double figures. They were allowed to rest all of the fourth with the bench holding the lead and young guys like Aldrich and Tyler getting much-needed burn.
FAVORABLE RESULTS: The Knicks are going to need some help to make the playoffs and they got it from everyone last night. The teams in front of them (Pistons, Cavaliers, Hawks) all lost, and New York can jump in front of the Cavs with a win tonight.
We’re not dead yet, people.[youtube http://youtu.be/UX5L_ey6n7E]