Jazz finally get a win at Madison Square Garden for the first time in over five years, first win there for Boozer in a Jazz uniform.
The Jazz entered Monday night's game against the Knicks with a 2-4 record, and without a road win all season. Not to mention their 5 year stretch of futility against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. In fact, since Carlos Boozer signed with the Jazz, Utah has failed to win a game at the Garden.
However, it looked like we were in store for a turnaround after Utah's big win against the Spurs that featured inspired play from both Boozer and Williams, who combined for 54 points on the game.
Wrong. The Jazz were then exposed to be extremely vulnerable to a Zone Defense after Sacramento employed the tactic almost exclusively the entire game, and came away with a convincing 104 – 99 win, that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
This has been the story for the Jazz so far this season. They are consistently inconsistent, if that makes sense in some crazy way. I know the Season is still young but its crazy how up and down Utah has been already, looking great one game and horrible the next.
Jerry Sloan has made it clear that the Jazz need to address their defensive problems and inability to score effectively against the Zone. Sloan also made a point to emphasize the Zone in practice on Monday before the game, because the Knicks were most likely going to show Zone early and often after seeing Sacramento have success with it.
Well Jerry was right and around the middle of the First Quarter the Knick were almost exclusively in a Zone defense and you could see the Jazz struggle to get penetration. The Zone Defense had its biggest effect on Deron Williams, who shot 2 for 10 on the night and scored only 5 points on the game, with 16 Assists.
The key to Jazz's victory however, was Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko, who both scored 23 points, with Boozer chipping in 14 rebounds and a steal. The big surprise was AK-47 shooting 5 for 8 from long range, before Monday Kirilenko was 2 for 7 on three pointers, or 28%, so he definitely stepped it up.
Mehmet Okur also had a good game with 18 points and 12 rebounds shooting 2 for 5 from 3-point range.
On a night where the Jazz got basically no contributions from their bench,(14 points), they needed their stars to show up, and show up they did.
Boozer, Kirilenko, and Mehmet combined for 64 points, 32 rebounds and shot a combined 57% from the field while the rest of the team shot 45%.
Despite the great play from their starters and leading by double digits for much of the game, the Jazz were true to form and almost gave this game away in the 4th Quarter as well.
The Knicks really struggled in the First half and even missed their first 10 three point shots, but, led by rookie Tony Douglas New York rallied and almost forced overtime with a strong 4th Quarter.
Up by 14 at the start of the 4th New York kept chipping away, Al Harrington(11 points) got some 3's to drop, Italian Rookie Danillo Gallinari(7points, 5 in last minutes of the 4th) made some shots, and Tony Douglas(21 points) was relentless with his drives to the basket.
With just under a minute to play Tony Douglas drove to the hoop and made a layup to tie the game at 93. On the next possession Deron Williams had a drive of his own to the basket but he failed to convert, fortunately for Utah, New York didn't box out Mehmet Okur and he got the Offensive board and the put back to put Utah ahead for good at 95-39.
In the final seconds the Knicks once again went to Rookie Guard Tony Douglas, but, this time he couldn't get his layup to fall and the Jazz came away with the close win.
Again this was another example of how the Jazz can't put together a complete game. They were fortunate they were playing a lesser team in the Knicks, or else they might not have been so lucky to come away with the win.
The road gets significantly tougher in the next couple days, with a road matchup against Boston(7-1) on Wednesday and against Philly(3-4) on Friday.
The Jazz need to continue to work on their Offensive play against the Zone and help defense. Let's see if they can build off this road victory and get above .500 for the first time this season.
Danny is the sports blogger for the NFL/NBA for sportstalkbuzz.com. In addition to the Jazz Danny also covers the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. Danny is passionate about sports and competitive Snail hunting. If you have any sports related questions Danny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to leave your comments below and Danny will be sure to respond to them.
About the Author
Written by Danny Shapiro
Danny Shapiro is 26 years old, married and a father to 2 boys, who he hopes one day to play MLB and support him and his wife in their old age. Danny's second love, mistress even, is sports and Danny is living his dream of being a sports writer right now, thanks to Prosportsblogging.com.