Banged-up Knicks push past Jazz

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- Both the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks considered Monday night's game a must-win contest.
Only the road-weary visitors played like it.
J.R. Smith scored 20 points and Raymond Felton added 19 as the short-handed Knicks finished a rough road trip with a 90-83 victory over the Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.
"It was a great win for our ballclub," New York coach Mike Woodson said after his team dropped the Jazz's home record to 24-9. "To come to Utah, it is hard to win here, and to play a good team who has played well at home and to be short-handed like we were, we stepped up."
Smith hit a key jumper with 2:36 remaining to end a late Utah run and help the Knicks halt their four-game losing streak.
The backup guard said he was motivated by the gutsy performance of veteran teammate Jason Kidd.
Kidd, who turns 40 on Saturday, had seven points and five assists despite playing with an injured left wrist.
"It was very inspiring. I have little ice bags on my nicks and bruises. It makes me think that if (Kidd) can do it, I can definitely do it," Smith said. "He has 13 years on me, so if he can do it, I can definitely fight through it."
New York (39-26) was coming off road losses to the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers.
Gordon Hayward, starting for the second game in a row, led Utah with 17 points.
The Jazz (34-33) shot only 38.2 percent from the field as a team and scored just 39 points in the second half despite going against a squad playing without three of its top players. Utah missed nine of its last 10 shots while blowing an opportunity to sustain momentum gained with a big win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
"Very difficult, really difficult game for us," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said after his team was outplayed in the second half. "We had to play a certain way, and we had to play from inside out to be effective. They took us out of our game. They were the aggressors tonight."
The Knicks were vastly outmanned as they wrapped up their trip. It was known going into the game that center Amar'e Stoudemire wouldn't play because of his knee issue, which will keep him out for six weeks. However, New York also played without Carmelo Anthony (knee) and Tyson Chandler (knee/neck).
Chandler will undergo an MRI on his ailing neck Tuesday in New York, according to ESPN. Woodson wouldn't confirm the MRI but acknowledged that Chandler's neck would be evaluated upon the Knicks' return.
"I'm not a doctor. I know it's not well enough for him to play," Woodson said. "Obviously, it's bothering him."
Jazz big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap combined to score 22 points on 8-of-22 shooting from the field while being bothered by New York's frontcourt of Kenyon Martin, Chris Copeland and Kurt Thomas.
The Knicks were outrebounded 46-34, but they outscored the Jazz 34-22 in the paint.
"We stayed at home on (the Jazz) shooters," Thomas said. "They didn't get any wide-open looks there in the fourth quarter. Myself and Kenyon just competed and played solid defense."
The Jazz finished the first half on a tear. Mo Williams' buzzer-beating jumper capped an 8-0 run before the break, giving Utah a 44-42 halftime lead.
The teams exchanged runs in the third quarter.
New York took charge out of the locker room, going ahead 50-46 after Copeland scored two of his 14 points on a layup.
The Jazz called a timeout and then responded with back-to-back Hayward 3-pointers to begin a 14-4 spurt for a 60-54 lead.
The pendulum then swung in New York's favor as Smith scored six points in a 10-0 Knicks surge that resulted in a 66-63 lead for the visitors after three quarters.
Thomas and Felton helped New York build that into an 84-76 advantage with 4:31 to go after the point guard and the 40-year-old big man hit consecutive jumpers.
Utah quickly trimmed that lead to three with a 3-pointer and an inside bucket by Mo Williams, but that was as close as the Jazz got down the stretch.
The usually reliable Jazz bench didn't offer nearly as much punch as the Knicks' reserve corps, which featured the big night from Smith. Marvin Williams was the only Jazz reserve in double digits with 10 points. Derrick Favors had a game-high 13 rebounds but made only one of seven shots from the field for seven points.
The Knicks return home for a game Wednesday against the Orlando Magic, while Utah heads out on a three-game road trip in Texas.
Utah is clinging to its playoff hopes after stumbling through a recent stretch in which it has lost eight of 10 games, falling from No. 7 in the West to the ninth spot behind the Los Angeles Lakers (36-33).
"It's frustrating," Marvin Williams said. "Give a ton of credit to New York. They came out and played well."
NOTES: New York won for the first time since pummeling Utah 113-94 on March 9 at Madison Square Garden. ... The college teams of eight Jazz players are participating in the NCAA Tournament, but nobody has more bragging rights when it comes to March Madness than Marvin Williams. He hit a key bucket in North Carolina's 75-70 win over Illinois in the 2005 NCAA championship game. "Yeah, I don't think anybody will say anything to me because they know I have that in my back pocket," Williams said. "I might come in and wear one of my rings." ... Felton was Marvin Williams' teammate on that title-winning Tar Heels team. ... Thomas had an X-ray taken of his right foot before Monday's game that revealed a bone spur. He'll have a follow-up MRI on Tuesday. ... Corbin was the manager of player development in New York for the 2003-04 season.

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