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News » Knicks-Jazz Preview

Knicks-Jazz Preview

Knicks-Jazz Preview
The Utah Jazz struggled with a fast-paced opponent last week, losing one game and barely avoiding their first home defeat in two months.

They'll try to correct their mistakes against another up-tempo foe, as they put their 15-game home winning streak on the line and try to improve their positioning in the crowded Western Conference on Monday night against the fading New York Knicks.

Utah needs a strong performance in its final 10 games if it hopes to catch first-place Denver in the Northwest Division and potentially earn home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

But the Jazz (45-27) didn't play well in a home-and-home set against Phoenix, losing 118-114 on the road Wednesday night and laboring to a 104-99 overtime victory in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.

They blew a 21-point third-quarter lead Saturday, needing a 9-2 run at the end of regulation to catch the Suns and continue their longest home winning streak of the season. Deron Williams hit an 18-footer to tie it with 13 seconds left, then scored seven points in overtime, finishing with 21 points and 13 assists for his fourth straight double-double.

"That was one that just about got away from us," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We had a nice lead and then we just quit competing. You can't afford to do that."

The Jazz especially can't afford many more losses if they hope to emerge from the regular season at the top of a six-team cluster in the West. Just two games in the loss column separate second-place San Antonio and Utah, which is tied with New Orleans for sixth.

Sloan's team will also likely need to take advantage of its home games. The Jazz's 31-6 home record is the second best in the conference behind only the Los Angeles Lakers, and they haven't lost at home since a 106-100 defeat to San Antonio on Jan. 27.

New York (29-44) doesn't seem like an especially likely candidate to end that run, although it plays a similar run-and-gun style to the Suns under former Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni, and it already boasts a win over Utah this season.

With departed stars Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph making the main contributions, the Knicks won 107-99 at home Nov. 9, when the Jazz were without Williams. Overall, New York has won seven of nine against Utah, although it has lost its last two in Salt Lake City.

The Knicks have dropped seven of their last eight games overall to fall out of contention for the playoffs in the East, and they have just one road win over a winning team all season.

They shot just 37.6 percent in a 96-85 loss at Charlotte on Saturday night, their lowest point total since a 96-76 defeat at Houston on Jan. 10.

The most interesting development for the Knicks may have been the return of troubled center Eddy Curry, who had played three minutes all season before Saturday's game. He only played two more against the Bobcats as he works his way back from knee problems and personal issues.

"I'm going (to Utah) to win the game," D'Antoni told the Knicks' official Web site. "I'll try to get (Curry) out there as much as I can and hopefully he can improve as we go along. I want to win so I'll make some decisions good or bad trying to win."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 30, 2009


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