The Utah Jazz have a couple of things going for them as they return to Salt Lake City to host the New York Knicks on Tuesday night after a three-game Eastern road trip.
For one thing, they won’t have to face Joel Embiid. The 76ers center had the performance of a lifetime on Sunday en route to leading Philadelphia past Utah 105-98. Embiid scored a career-high 59 points, hitting 19 of 28 shots and 20 of 24 free throws, while also grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing out eight assists and blocking seven shots.
Another bit of good news for the Jazz: They return to their cozy confines at Vivint Arena, where they’ve gone 5-0 this season.
Even with the Sixers loss and their setback in Washington the night before, the Jazz still have one of the best records in the Western Conference (10-5) as they prepare for their first home game in a week. The back-to-back losses this weekend marked the first time Utah has lost consecutive contests through 15 games.
“It’s OK to be proud of how you’ve played to this point,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “We try to have our guys embrace that. It’s on us as a staff to continue to teach and remind them that there’s still a lot we can get better at.”
Spacing and decision-making are two areas Hardy blamed for the loss in Philadelphia. The Jazz had 17 turnovers while getting 14 of their shots blocked.
“I thought that this game was not representative of how we want to play,” Hardy said. “I thought we started the game great — we controlled the tempo, our spacing was very good, our execution was good. And as the game went on, that did not continue and that put us in a tough spot against a good team and a very good player down the stretch.”
Utah, which has only played one-third of its games at home, will host New York and Phoenix before returning to the road again this weekend.
The Knicks kick off a rough stretch Tuesday night, as they’ll play five away games out West in seven nights. The road trip includes games against Utah, Denver, Golden State, Phoenix and Oklahoma City.
New York dropped a 145-135 shootout at home to the Thunder on Sunday. The Knicks allowed OKC to shoot 62.5 percent overall, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 37 points and Josh Giddey racking up a triple-double of 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
The Thunder’s huge offensive output nullified big nights from Cam Reddish, who logged a season-high 26 points, Julius Randle (25) and Immanuel Quickley (24). Of note, RJ Barrett didn’t play in the final 21 minutes after missing 8 of 10 shots.
“We just got behind by so much that we were just looking for life,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said of leaving his second-leading scorer on the bench to end the game. “The group that was in there gave us a little bit of a spark, so that’s where we went with it.”
–Field Level Media