New York Knicks: Closing 2018 without style, flash, or finesse

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 29: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz grabs a rebound in the first half of a NBA game against the New York Knicks at Vivint Smart Home Arena on December 29, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 29: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz grabs a rebound in the first half of a NBA game against the New York Knicks at Vivint Smart Home Arena on December 29, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /
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The New York Knicks closed 2018 with an embarrassing dud against the Utah Jazz.

There were infinite outcomes for Saturday night’s game between the New York Knicks and Utah Jazz. Sure, head coach David Fizdale’s team entered the night with six straight losses and just two wins for all of December, but it could not have trended further down, right?

Wrong.

It was a no-contest. The Knicks were clobbered by a Jazz team that had their way all evening, playing lights-out basketball on both ends of the court. Couple that with an invisible New York defense, and this was too easy for the team from Salt Lake City, 129-97.

The Jazz had six players in double figures, four of which had a double-double, including Thabo Sefolosha‘s 10 points and 10 rebounds. His last double-double? Dec. 30, 2017, nearly one day away from a full year.

Dante Exum‘s night was not too shabby, either, with 13 points and 13 points, all while Donovan Mitchell blended in with 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting.

As for the Knicks, they stumbled to basically no positives, aside from Luke Kornet‘s four three-pointers. It was a miserable defensive night, with four players at minus-29 or worse: Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Damyean Dotson and Enes Kanter.

Frankly, no player had a productive night defending anyone on Utah. Noah Vonleh and Trey Burke both finished at plus-11, but the latter man entered the game with just minutes left.

Tim Hardaway Jr. was New York’s leading scorer, but his shooting woes continued, at 5-for-13 for 18 points. He scores on volume, but just six of his 12 games resulted in a shot percentage above 40.0. Obviously, that’s problematic.

Knox had his own rough night, scoring just 12 points in 41 minutes, by far the most of any Knick. Fizdale let him play throughout the lopsided second half.

Speaking of the half, the Knicks were down 37 points. If that was not horrifying already, it became their second-largest deficit in the shot clock era, per ESPN.

There was nothing positive to take away from this game, other than 2018 ending and the Knicks potentially turning the page for 2019. They officially finished 19-64 from Jan. 1 to Saturday’s loss.

  • Will Fizdale make more rotation changes? This was embarrassing for New York, and it’s difficult to see how he will stick with the same group in the next game.
  • What adjustments can be made, though, that will change anything? This team is not in position to win games, clearly, and the defensive issues plague most of this roster.
  • No one on the bench warranted a promotion, either, as this group made just nine shots. Four of them came from Burke, who played sparingly; he showed scoring flashes earlier this season, but was unable to maintain consistency.
  • Hardaway has played poorly since Thanksgiving, but benching the team’s most productive scorer brings its own doubts.

Next. 25 greatest players in NYK history. dark

The New York Knicks will move to the third part of this road trip on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, against the Denver Nuggets.