Game Thread: Knicks vs. Jazz

I wonder how much you know about the Jazz, friends. I’ll tell you what I knew before I started writing this piece, and let’s see how well it matches up to your expertise.

I knew that the Jazz started in New Orleans in 1974. That much seems obvious given the franchise name. I knew that the New Orleans Jazz famously employed “Pistol” Pete Maravich who led the league in scoring with over 30 points a game. I knew that the New Orleans Jazz had trouble financially and ended up moving to Salt Lake City, the former home of the ABA’s Utah Stars. I knew that the team traded for Adrian Dantley and grabbed up some other decent basketball players, like Darrell Griffith and Rickey Green, but ultimately struggled to be competitive until they drafted John Stockton in 1984 and Karl Malone in 1985. The rest is sort of common knowledge at this point. Stockton/Malone became Dream Teamers and perennial All-Stars. They were among the select few “faces” of the league for a generation.

There are so many fascinating details to add to the story, though, and I managed to “wow” myself today by reading the Wikipedia entry on the club to get deeper into the weird NBA journey of that franchise. Let me help you out. I particularly liked this nugget (no pun intended):

Venue issues were a continual problem for the team while it was based in New Orleans. In the Jazz’s first season, they played in the Municipal Auditorium and Loyola Field House, where the basketball court was raised so high that the NBA Players Association made the team put a net around the court so that players wouldn’t fall off of the court and into the stands.[6] Later, they played games in the Louisiana Superdome, but things were no better, due to high demand for the stadium, onerous lease terms and Maravich’s constant knee problems. They also faced the prospect of spending a whole month on the road each year due to Mardi Gras festivities.[5][7] Years later, founding owner Sam Battistone claimed that there was no contingency plan in case the Jazz ever qualified for the playoffs. However, the Superdome’s manager at the time, Bill Curl, said that the stadium’s management always submitted a list of potential playoff dates to the Jazz management, but these letters were never answered.

That passage alone excited me so much I went in search of the sources for the info at the bottom of the Wikipedia page. I also searched Amazon for a book about the New Orleans Jazz because I have to read that ASAP. There don’t seem to be any books on the subject of the New Orleans Jazz oddly. There are little books about the history of the Jazz, or the key players in the franchise’s history, but no literary treatments, per se. Someone better get on that. There’s more:

After what turned out to be their final season in New Orleans, they were dealt a further humiliation when the Los Angeles Lakers selected Magic Johnson with the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft. The pick would have been the Jazz’s had they not traded it to acquire Gail Goodrich two years earlier. Also, the Jazz had given up the rights to Moses Malone in order to regain one of the three first-round picks used for the Goodrich trade; the combination of Johnson and Malone blossoming into Hall of Famers and Goodrich’s ineffective, injury-ruined few years in New Orleans made this transaction one of the most lopsided in NBA history.

Oh, mother of God make it stop!!! But it doesn’t stop….The Jazz missed out on both James Worthy and Terry Cummins in the 1982 draft, and reluctantly picked Dominique Wilkins, who didn’t want to play in Utah. The team was in financial turmoil and didn’t want to get into a protracted fight with a #1 draft pick, so they sent Dominique to Atlanta for…and this makes me so very sad….John Drew and Freeman Williams. One of the saddest parts of that story is that Freeman Williams’ name isn’t even linked in the Wikipedia entry. It just stares back at you, plain and black and lonely. No underline. No promise of a personality of any kind. Poor Freeman Williams and poor Utah Jazz. (Note: Jazz fans, gathered at a 1984 draft party, apparently booed the selection of John Stockton…so heads up Kristaps.)

So, things got better, and while the franchise never won the title, thanks largely to our own nemesis, Michael Jordan, they have been respectable and competitive for the better part of 30 years now. Congratulations Utah!!

The current Utah Jazz club is similar to the Knicks in a number of ways. They are middle of the road in a variety of team statistics, and they’re hovering below .500 in a tough Western Conference. The Knicks are similarly middle of the road in a variety of team stats, but edge the Jazz enough in enough areas that they seem like the better team….at least on paper. The Jazz play at the slowest pace in the league and yet they’re near the bottom in “TO ratio” as well. That’s not a good sign for the Jazz. Utah played the entire month of December without the transcendent French giant Rudy Gobert, who’s been looking like his old terrifying self in recent days. He’s even feeling his oats enough that he had a Twitter brou-ha-ha with Nikola Vucevic for some reason. Scandalous! The Jazz ought to be much better than their record with Gobert back to lurking in wait of prey to devour.

Whenever I get ready to do one of these pieces, I ask myself, “Which opposing guard is most likely to thrash the Knicks tonight?” It’s often an easy question to answer, and frequently there’s more than one correct answer at that. Ish Smith seemed like a no-brainer for the Sixers, and sure enough, he did some proper “ish” to the Knicks backcourt. Trey Burke would be the quick little fella I’d pick for the Jazz. He doesn’t “wow” you with his assists or steals, but his scoring has been very tough so far. I could see him dropping 25-5000 points tonight. Raul Neto, who I just learned is NOT a new character from The Force Awakens, seems like the sort of maddening guy who finds a career game against our Knickerbockers. Of course, the Jazz are without Dante Exum and Alec Burks. Exum was done for the year before Game One, and Burks is out until after the All Star break. It seems as though Derrick Favors will be sidelined with back issues, so a number of likely Knick-killers are not available to Utah. Rodney Hood is a guy I like a lot, but he’s up and down and doesn’t strike me as the sort of guy that gives the Knicks fits.

The Jazz obliterated the Knicks in Utah on December 9th. Carmelo Anthony only managed 12 points, while his scoring counterpart on the Jazz, Gordon Hayward, torched the Knicks for 24, making it look very easy. Kristaps Porzingis was in the middle of his worst stretch of the season on the team’s West Coast swing, and dropped a -27 against the Jazz, his worst +/- of the season by far. A couple of games later he had a scoreless stinker against the Trailblazers, shooting 0-6, which looks bad in the counting stats, but the team managed to be somewhat competitive while he was in the game in Portland. I expect Gobert to give the Knicks some fits, and he might present a challenge to Porzingis with his length and athleticism. It’s a good test for our young unicorn. If he can master Gobert in New York, another positive moment can be added to a growing list of successes.

Kristaps is averaging wonderful numbers in January. He’s at over 31 minutes per game this month, partly due to Melo’s recent absences, and over 10 January games he’s piling up:

16.6 points per game, 8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.7 blocks, 1.4 threes

.460/.341/.828 shooting

Although it’s a little silly to do this, no one has ever averaged that combination of numbers in an NBA season. Only 3-4 players have ever come close to that interesting collection of high rebounds and blocks, with over a steal and 1+ threes a game. Dirk, Marion, and Rasheed Wallace are the key names that come up. There are two reasons I bring it up. 1) It makes Porzingis look great, which make my tummy feel all warm inside. 2) Those numbers don’t seem all that spectacular compared to what he might become eventually, which is truly terrifying and delightful. He’s not only the clear Rookie of the Month in the East again, but he’s been better than Karl-Anthony Towns in January as well. As good as Melo has been this season, Kristaps has emerged from that West Coast slump with an amazing confidence and the last few games he’s looked like an evolved player…more aggressive, energetic, assertive, and sexy. He’s also the fourth best selling jersey in the league, so there’s that! Keep calm like Kristaps Porzingis, baby.

A bunch of Knicks are beat up right now, including Melo, Porzingis, Lance Thomas, and Kevin Seraphin. Let’s jump on the Jazz, get some revenge, and get ourselves back to .500, and rest up. Let’s go Knicks.

Liked it? Take a second to support mikeplugh on Patreon!

207 thoughts to “Game Thread: Knicks vs. Jazz”

  1. I’ll be at the garden tonight, which won’t exactly be money well spent if Porzingis doesn’t suit up. Then again, if he’s actually not 100% the rational side of me doesn’t want him to play. Basically I’m conflicted, man.

  2. I really, really want them to get to .500, so they sort of kind of need this win. So come on, Knicks, pull it out! It’s not like Utah is some awesome team or anything like that.

  3. KP is playing tonight but Lance Thomas is out. We’ve come a long way when Lance Thomas being out is cause for concern.

  4. Seraphin being “beat up” (which, how exactly? The guy hardly ever plays, which is good) isn’t exactly something I’m going to get worried over. Now Lance Thomas being out? That worries me. And the fact that that worries me, worries me.

  5. Lol. Like you guys were ever confused about who I meant by “he”.

    Wow that sentence sucked grammatically.

  6. This team reminds me of Bernard King’s first year with the team. We were slow at guard with Ed Sherrod as starter and we had an aging Paul Westphal playing on one leg. We made a move for Rory Sparrow at the trade deadline and picked up Ray Williams (again) in the off season. The next year, guard play was a strength.

    This is a team that can’t afford to lose any of it’s parts. We’re not gonna win with poor shooting performances from Melo, a slowed down KP6 or even without key bench talent like LT. We had it going until half time against BOS. Now we’re struggling again. It may be a while before this team gets on that streak we’re all waiting for to get a few games over .500 and into the playoff picture.

    Next year I anticipate a more resilient group.

  7. Here’s to hoping Ish Smith goes off in Orlando tonight.

    That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

  8. Here’s to hoping Ish Smith goes off in Orlando tonight.

    The funny thing about Ish Smith is that he probably thinks he is going to go off in every game. That dude surely doesn’t lack for confidence.

  9. Porzingis says he will play despite the pain. His goal is to play in all 82 games. What a draft pick!

  10. Porzingis says he will play despite the pain. His goal is to play in all 82 games. What a draft pick!

    I think he probably needs to be saved from himself then. It’s admirable that he wants to do that, but not very smart and the coaching and management staff should probably step in here and override him.

  11. Let’s let Lopez take all the shots just to see what happens; like a basketball social experiment.

  12. Ish is a free agent and is literally playing for his life. Good for him.

    The last game, there were numerous occasions where the Sixers were killed by Smith playing hero-ball. It’s bad enough when star players play hero-ball, but when Ish freakin’ Smith is playing hero-ball? That said, he definitely is helping his case by his overall play (he’s not even playing all that well, but he’s playing well enough to get a new deal) – I just think he went too far in that game.

  13. With the way the Knicks looked that quarter they dont have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning tonight.

  14. I like Hayward a lot. Probably would be one of the best #2s in the NBA

    …if he weren’t perfectly average. Finished that for ya.

  15. The Knicks tonight look like they are playing the 3rd game of a back-to-back-to-back during a lockout season.

  16. Do you think that our offense would be this pathetic tonight with a guy like Ish in there?

    Ish yes.
    Fish no.

  17. Man, Porzingis is either otherwordly with his shooting or couldn’t throw it in the ocean bad. I can’t wait until he develops some superstar consistency. Maybe in a year or two.

  18. Perfectly average is still an upgrade.

    Amen. I’d take him at $8M a year.

  19. Is our team good enough to compete for the playoffs this year? Only when I’m on a cruise it seems.

  20. Captain America with another smooth steal and a beautiful assist over the cant be bothered to play Knicks team.

  21. Between that T and the few times he’s left a jazz open in the corner for a three I’ve had just about enough of Calderon tonight.

    Is Jerian Grant not a thing any more?

  22. He may put no effort into his D, but at least Calderon went all out to pick up that T.

  23. Knicks must be getting desperate to be putting a clearly winded Zingis back so soon.

  24. And so Zingis goes back to the bench after contributing two quick tired fouls and not much else. Good rotations Fish.

  25. Captain America on the bench to start the 4th, it’s nao or never if the Knicks are planning a cum back.

  26. 76ers won in Orlando tonight. D’Antoni for assistant coach of the year.

    How in the world does he not get another head coaching job after what he has done with the Sixers? Hell, how do the Sixers just not give him the job?

  27. He gets a bad overly rap for his defenses and for being a bit of a hard ass, but I have to say he was the best coach the Knicks have had since the glory days of the Notorious JVG.

  28. Houston needs to help the cause and make a comeback to be Detroit. Also, Toronto needs to hold of Boston.

    Miami is free falling and kept Washington in the mix.

  29. I miss D’Antoni and the Amare Felton Knicks team.
    The good/bad about D’Antoni is that he needs players to fit his system.
    76ers is an ideal situation for him because he can build that team from ground up to up.
    It is a better situation for him compared to the last 2 teams he handled. Melo Knicks and Kobe Dwigth and the no shooting lakers team

  30. Calderon so good he cant even be bothered to box out and staph the offensive rebound.

  31. Melo just made two of the best plays o have seen from him in a long time. Those were impressive plays

  32. Knicks giving up the corner 3 after covering to help Calderon letting his guy drive to the paint.

  33. The last 4 plays were genius by Fisher and Melo. KP at the 5 pulls Gobert out of the lane and Melo drove every time. Then when Gobert sagged into the paint he hit KP for the 3. That is how you play and coach.

  34. If that Calderon 3pter wouldve gone in the Garden roof wouldve come off. But of course he missed which resulted in a loose ball foul and Jazz ft’s.

  35. I actually think I want vujevic in there more than Calderon.

    Of course, neither of them is also an option, DEREK.

  36. Wow. This, coupled with all the other Eastern Conference teams that we wanted to lose losing, could be such a great night.

  37. Afflalo is annoying to watch. Letting Rodney Hood, a leftie, go left is just a dumb thing to do. It’s inexcusable and makes him look like he didn’t read the scouting report.

  38. This Jazz team needs some trade. They are in the 9-10 spots in the west and just few tweaks they can easily be a consistent playoff contender.
    They have a lot of guards and bigs which are redundant and dont have a synergy.
    -I am about to post this but realized it is not a sure win yet. jinxed or prophecy?

  39. It’s awesome having a big man who isn’t a FT liability in the closing moments of a close gayme.

  40. Fucking fisher gets burned two games in arow. Not fouling up by three. I just don’t understand why this is not universal

  41. When Captain America throws his mighty shield,
    All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield.
    Or risk fouling out of the field.

  42. Porzingis really screwed up…no two ways around it. Melo tweaks something on that last shot as well (unless it is just one of his patented grimaces after a bad miss).

  43. Fish and his shitty rotations and defensive play callings just threw away this cumback.

  44. The JaZz to their credit, hit 3 contested threes in the last few mins to create this. Then singer with the worst foul I’ve seen in a while. Dude is 7’3

  45. Fouling up 3 is NOT a no brainer if the guy is facing the basket. At the first sign of contact, all he has to do is throw it up and get 3 foul shots — or a possible 4 point play.

  46. I can only listen to the radio, but I have to say, Crispino has been highly entertaining. Total homer, of course, but the call on DWill’s putback was full-throated awesome.

  47. Wow can the Jazz miss one shot so I can stop watching the game please? They NEVER go away!

  48. I love this new scheme Fish is trying out where he has no guard the 3pt line. He’s really commited to it.

  49. Gotta respect Utah’s effort. Each team throwing roundhouse blows.
    And jazz shooting better from three than ftom 2. Crazy

  50. Cronin, you are welcome…

    Going to start drafting my apology to Phil Jackson. Solid team he put together.

  51. i am loving the play of Dwill and Rolo.
    Not superstars material but very good complementary players.
    also, do you think Galloway is a future PG of our team?

Comments are closed.