It was all good in the first quarter. Kristaps Porzingis (28 points) was cooking with his shot (4/5) and had 11 points. Carmelo Anthony (28 points) was picking spots and also had a scorching 4/5 start, leading to the duo accounting for 24 of the Knicks’s first 26 points, and a 30-20 first quarter lead.
Then the BS started. The game literally came to a grinding halt in the second quarter. The Knicks could not stop fouling. The Jazz knocked down 15 free throws in the quarter and were only down 54-49 despite shooting 38% from the field and the Knicks 51%. Exacerbating the problem was Porzingis got in foul trouble and had his rhythm broke. He wouldn’t score again until midway through the third quarter.
The Knicks had a scrappy third quarter as the Jazz found their offense. Utah briefly took a 62-60 lead, but a quick Courtney Lee (10 points) three put New York back in front. The Knicks clung to a 80-78 lead headed into the fourth.
The starters fought tooth and nail to hold the lead and had to sit to start the fourth.This proved disastrous as the bench unit couldn’t score and the Jazz promptly reeled off a 9-0 run to start the quarter and go up 87-80.
Then our defensive woes came back to bite us. A couple of strong Derrick Rose (18 points) drives would get the Knicks to within five (100-95), but we couldn’t hold defensively. Either Rodney Hood, who had 10 points in the fourth, would hit a timely three, or the Jazz would find an open mid-range jumper after breaking down our switching defense. The Jazz would have a 36-point fourth quarter and hand New York their second straight defeat at Madison Square Garden.
100 points or more given up in every game this season. This defense is so bad, it makes me long for the days of Mike Woodson and Mike D’Antoni. Seriously, is it that hard to not play defense with your hands? Sure, Hornacek deserves some of the blame, but outside of KP this is a team composed of experienced players. They need to take some pride in fighting over screens and not being so dependent on a switch to bail them out (and in turn create more mismatches). Even the switching under Woodson wasn’t this bad.
Our defense was a godsend for the returning Gordon Hayward, who put up 28 points with HALF of them coming from the free throw line!
We have three days until we face the Nets on Wednesday. Our practices better consist of pick and roll defense drills and fighting over screens.