Studs and Duds: Knicks get even with the Utah Jazz en route to an 8-game winning streak

New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) celebrates his three point shot against the Utah Jazz during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Back at the Garden, the New York Knicks served another blowout victory. On the second leg of a back-to-back led by Donte DiVincenzo, the Utah Jazz saw a crash course on the improved New York Knicks. Extending the win streak to eight games without Julius Randle or OG Anunoby, New York is officially in “contending” conversations. The Knicks won with a final score of 118-103

Studs: Nova Cats Edition 

This game was Donte DiVincenzo’s night to shine for the shorthanded New York Knicks. Scoring 33 points and a career-best nine made threes, DiVincenzo has cemented himself amid his best season yet in the NBA. Over the last two games without Anunoby or Randle, DiVincenzo has averaged 30 points on 47% from three-point range.

The ability of Donte to rise to the occasion when needed is a nod to his consistency in playing the right way. Whatever is asked of him on any given night, he’s up for the challenge, including defensively. Accumulating four steals, four assists, and one block, DiVincenzo was phenomenal on both sides while allowing the game to come to him.

Josh Hart’s many hats allow him to be one of the most versatile players in the NBA. In a game-high 42 minutes, Hart scored 10 points, rebounds, and assists notching his first triple-double of the season. There is a common trait found in both Hart and DiVincenzo’s styles of play, and that is humility.

Being a team player and excelling in the role assigned makes for great camaraderie and even better performances from teammates. Working together to succeed is easier said than done in this business that is the NBA. In Hart’s last three games, he’s averaging 10 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists on 51% from the floor.

To wrap up the three musketeers of Villanova is the remarkable play from Player of the Month candidate Jalen Brunson. A prolific three-level scorer, Brunson has fueled the Knicks en route to a league-best eight-game winning streak. The cerebral approach from Brunson on the offensive end has made him a thorn for opposing defenses looking for his weakness.

In this eight-game winning streak, Brunson has averaged 31 points and seven assists on a true shooting of 65%. The third quarter has been the ‘Brunson Show’ as of late, with an average of ten points per third quarter of his last six games. The Villanova core on this New York Knicks team has delivered tremendously, never shying in the brightest of lights as they prepare to make a deep playoff run. 

Studs: Frontcourt depth? 

Upon arrival, many Knicks faithful had their opinions on Precious Achiuwa. Since his 18-point and 11-rebound showing versus his former team, the Toronto Raptors, production has progressed well for Achiuwa. Defensive attention on Brunson made easy buckets for the often-cutting Achiuwa against the Utah Jazz, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds.

Slowly returning to dominant form in his return has been Isaiah Hartenstein. Back to his double-double ways, Hartenstein scored 14 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes of game time. With Jericho Sims and the recent reacquisition of Taj Gibson, the Knicks’ front-court depth looks solid despite missing Mitchell Robinson. A collection of team-first bigs that will do the dirty work is what operates best under Coach Thibodeau. 

Duds: Knicks continue to deal with minor injury woes 

One could say an injury bug has been flying around the Knicks’ locker room following the departure of Quentin Grimes to a right knee injury midway through the second quarter. The Knicks’ cohesion has played a tremendous part in them not missing a step. OG Anunoby will return for Thursday night’s game to add much defensive presence, but the Knicks have handled business for the time being. Expect updates on the conditions of both Randle and Grimes in the coming weeks. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Jazz

The New York Knicks are the best they’ve been in decades. With their next five games at home, expect a sense of urgency to continue as New York climbs the Eastern Conference ladder. Currently the third seed with one less win than the Milwaukee Bucks, expect brilliant performances to continue from the Villanova trio. A matchup against a newly formed duo in the Indiana Pacers on the horizon is another test as they’ve given the Knicks a hard time all season. 

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