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Shorthanded Knicks dominate Jazz to secure first 14-win month in 20 years

Shorthanded on the second leg of a back-to-back against the same Utah Jazz team who beat his Knicks by seven in December, head coach Tom Thibodeau beamed with confidence.

It’s the moxie of the leader of a team on a historic run: The Knicks entered Tuesday’s matchup winners of 13 games in the 15 played in the month of January, then padded their record with a 118-103 victory over the Jazz on Tuesday.

They have won 14 games in a month for the first time since 1994.

The Knicks are riding a league-best eight-game winning streak. They also entered Tuesday’s game tied with the Philadelphia 76ers and six games behind the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics.

The Sixers did not tipoff against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors until 10 p.m., well after the conclusion of the Knicks-Jazz game.

A Sixers loss would give the Knicks sole ownership of the East’s No. 3 seed.

Tuesday’s victory was a microcosm of how the Knicks got here in the first place, and yes: The wins began to pile when the Knicks traded for OG Anunoby.

Anunoby, however, missed his second consecutive game due to right elbow inflammation, and Julius Randle sat the second game of what’s expected to be a weeks-long-minimum recovery from a dislocated shoulder suffered against the Heat on Saturday.

Thibodeau never wavered. Not on the second leg of a road-then-home back-to-back. His Knicks answered the bell in Charlotte on Monday, then flew back home to handle business at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

It’s been next-man-up all season for a team plagued by untimely injuries and an unfavorable early schedule.

“We have more than enough,” Thibodeau said ahead of tipoff. “Next guy get in there and get it done. So I like the way the guys responded last night [against the Hornets], and the next day is a new challenge. They’re a very explosive team, they put a lot of points on the board, so we have to be at our best.”

Donte DiVincenzo shot 9-of-15 from downtown for 33 points to continue a torrid shooting start to the season. He came one shy of tying the franchise record of 10 threes in a game. J.R. Smith set the record in April of 2014,, then Evan Fournier tied Smith’s mark in Jan. 2022.

The outbursts from downtown have become the norm for DiVincenzo, who hit five threes against the Hornets on Monday.

Tuesday’s matchup against the Jazz marked his 11th game of the month with at least three made threes, his fourth game with five or more threes in January alone, and his fourth with at least seven threes this season.

Jalen Brunson scored 27 points and nine assists, Josh Hart recorded his first triple double of the season with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists; and Isaiah Hartenstein added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Precious Achiuwa finished with 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks, and Quentin Grimes scored 12 points off the bench.

The Knicks held Jazz star Lauri Markkanen to a 5-of-14 shooting night, with Utah’s Collin Sexton leading the charge with 22 points and seven assists.

The Knicks have one day to prepare for a steeper challenge in the Indiana Pacers, an Eastern Conference playoff opponent who will look to pounce on a shorthanded opponent.

Thibodeau said Anunoby is day-to-day with his elbow soreness, but it’s clear even if their defensive stopper and corner three specialist can’t go, someone will step up to shoulder the load.