Studs and Duds: Knicks take a horrible loss vs. Jazz to start road trip

New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) is fouled by Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) during an inbound pass in the last few seconds of the game at Delta Center
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

In what seemed to be a great game to set the tone for the road trip, the New York Knicks lost to the Utah Jazz and are now 6-7 away from Madison Square Garden.

A major letdown across the board, the stars for the Knicks did not show up in the Delta Center. Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, and Julius Randle combined for only 10 points in the 4th quarter as the Jazz won 117-113

Studs: Donte DiVincenzo bounces back

Donte DiVincenzo breaks the spell that’s been seen on starting shooting guards for New York as of late. He accumulated seven points and six rebounds in the first half before finishing the game with 21 points, seven boards, and a team-high 14 points in the 4th quarter on 65 TS%. 

The approach Donte brings night in and night out can’t be undermined. Donte has an incredible tendency to let the game come to him, and when he’s taking and making he’s staying aggressive and in rhythm. Adding four steals to his great offensive play, this was the best we’ve seen Donte in nearly a month of action since he nailed seven threes against the Charlotte Hornets. 

Studs: Immanuel Quickley looks sharp in his first game back from injury

Immanuel Quickley had a tenacious 12 points in the first half but played limited minutes in the second half. In his first game back since knee inflammation sat him out last contest, IQ wasted no time to show he was back to 100%. He scored his 12 on 83% from the floor and finished the game with 15 points on a 93 TS%. 

The shots IQ took were efficient, and his production was very promising, but more minutes will be needed from him to be that lightning bolt the Knicks have become accustomed to down the stretch. 

Studs: Julius Randle shines – until the fourth quarter 

Julius Randle was on pace to score 40+ in this contest. Reading the stat sheet, it looks as if he played phenomenally, scoring 32 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists on 60% shooting. Also adding to his accolades, Julius Randle tied Jamal Crawford for 4th all-time in Knicks history for 3PM

The aggression and tenacity Knicks faithful love to see from Randle was nonexistent in the 4th quarter. Carrying the load to open the game and the third quarter grants Randle on the studs, but one can’t ignore the lack of execution in the closing quarter. If the 14 points scored by DiVincenzo were Randle’s, this game is a different decision. 

Duds:

In this particular contest, one could choose several duds, after seeing how things unfolded. But there will be a focus on the biggest three.

Jalen Brunson may have had his worst performance of the season so far. Since dropping 42 points against Detroit, Brunson’s numbers have plummeted in the last five games. Brunson is shooting 19% from three over his last five games and an average of 3.2 turnovers per game.

This trend indicates a bigger reason for such a fall from grace, that be cohesiveness, chemistry, or mental woes Brunson elaborated in the post-game many sentiments, including “do a better job of staying connected…focused—not relaxed when we get a lead.” 

Duds: RJ Barrett was unable to carry over his great play from the last game

After such a tremendous game at MSG versus the Raptors, many of the Knicks faithful thought the resurgence was live and televised. Unfortunately, these thoughts couldn’t be capitalized on as RJ Barrett shot 18% from the floor in 16 attempts while also adding an abysmal 0/7 from three to the contest.

Consistency is mandatory, and RJ will not succumb to the constant luxury of “being young” to excuse his woes as of late. Barrett must perform for the Knicks to be the team they have the capabilities to be.

In the latest updates from Senior ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks are preparing themselves to make a big move that may be at the deadline or in the offseason to acquire a superstar-level player to bring to the Mecca. Barrett’s performances will be a strong influence on his tenure with the New York Knicks. 

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Duds: The Knicks’ defense couldn’t contain the Jazz

While shooting 23% from three in the game, the Knicks gave up 16 threes on a 38% clip. Five of Utah’s players were in double figures, and that was without Jordan Clarkson, John Collins, and Keyonte George, who were all sitting with injuries.

The discussion has been the terrible defense from the Knicks, hoping they will get back to their dominance that started the season, but they have settled into lukewarm mediocrity as of late. Ranking bottom three in defensive rating across the entire league over the last six games, the Knicks are not the same defensively and must adjust to form on this road trip, or they won’t be in winning conversations any time soon. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ embarrassing loss to the Jazz

A tremendously weak effort on the road saw a shorthanded Jazz club upset the Knicks. Mitchell Robinson’s presence was missed as Isaiah Hartenstein, and Jericho Sims seemed nonexistent for stretches of the game defensively. The Knicks must get back to their roots of honing in on defense and creating multiple easy opportunities in transition to maximize the efforts of players like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.

The next nine-game stretch through the end of December is all teams above .500, and losing to the Jazz was the worst way to begin possibly the most competitive stretch of games this season. Friday night will be one of the toughest as the Knicks take on the big three of the Phoenix Suns.