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."
Highlights from Last Game:
Song of the Day:
Mar 30, 2009, 21:08
Great song JayJ, and nice game thread. So how badly will D Williams outplay Duhon tonight?
Mar 30, 2009, 21:25
Thanks MSG. Deron Williams will probably leave a large hole in Duhon's prostate, unfortunately. He's stronger, faster, better shooter, better passer. Pretty much better in every facet of the game. Not gonna be a fun matchup for us...
Mar 30, 2009, 21:45
Dang Utahs really killing us rite now. It seems like they can't miss at all. Good game from Chandler so far on both ends of the court. 4-6 9 pts. This kid got huge potential :)
Mar 30, 2009, 22:09
I hate referees. They make an awful call, Jeffries didn't make contact with Deron Williams at all. Then they're too arrogant to admit a mistake and they give D'antoni a technical. Not that it even matters, we're getting blown out anyways.
Mar 30, 2009, 23:40
They almost pulled this one out but ALMOST does'nt win you any games.:smokin:
Great game thread Jay!
Mar 30, 2009, 23:41
Mar 30, 2009, 23:51
Classic line by D'antoni when Harrington was called for a moving screen at the end: "I haven't seen that call in ten years, Bob."
That was hilarious. Clutch lost BTW.
Mar 30, 2009, 23:54
Very Clean and subtle Thread but powerful nonetheless. The best one I seen so far. Good job.
Mar 31, 2009, 05:00
Hold on....let me get this right....in the 3rd qtr. the Knicks were losing by 24 points. Right? and from the 3rd qtr. the Knicks went on a run to be winning by 1 point with 5 minutes left in the game. Right?
And this were against the Utah Jazz team in Utah....right?
Who were the Knick players used in this run to delete a 24 point Utah lead?
If Nate & Lee were the players in this lineup....I guess that should answer the above question on this Game-Thread...
Mar 31, 2009, 10:36
so close to winning. still don't understand how one half the knicks play like **** and the next they shut down the opposition.
harrington is starting to piss me off. his level of intellect is starting to show. that fool should have gone to college. both technicals were done on purpose. the scrotum-head should have kept his mouth shut.