Rudy Gobert terrific in return but Jazz can’t stop Knicks in 117-115 loss.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN

SUMMARY:  Jazz fell to the New York Knicks 117-115  despite a tremendous return for Rudy Gobert

Jazz had a furious rally back late in the 4th quarter and had three three point looks on one possession with :30 left to tie the game but none of them went down.  Donovan Mitchell forced a poor look three, but Rubio sprinted across the lane for the rebound and found a wide open Joe Johnson for three, he missed.  The Jazz got the rebound and kicked to an open Joe Ingles and he missed and the Jazz were done.  Two of the Jazz best three point shooters for the tie and it didn’t go down.

On the previous play with :49 left Joe Johnson got a wide open corner 3 looked and that missed as well.

The Jazz defense was not good enough tonight. The Knicks offensive rating is a 107.  Tonight it was a 114.  The Jazz defense needs to be better than average to win games and a better than average defense tonight would have had the Knicks in the 102 range.

The Jazz changed the starting lineup tonight and went with Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Rodney Hood, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. The first quarter struggles didn’t end as Jazz trailed 14-9 at the first substitution. In the third quarter it worked better as the Jazz went from down 6 to up 3.

Rodney Hood scored very well in the first half of the game and finished with 18 points, but has been having a hard time with a chin calf issue, thus the tape he has been wearing on this leg and he was unable to finish the game and will be re-evaluated tomorrow. This is really too bad since he was inserted into the starting line-up tonight and it is important for he and Donovan to figure out what they can do to compliment each other’s games.

Rudy Gobert returned tonight was terrific. He had a huge impact on the game both offensively and defensively.   The Knicks grabbed Rudy and didn’t want to let Rudy dunk.  Jeff Hornacek has always talked about not allowing dunks when on the road and that seemed to be the strategy tonight to not allow Rudy to get follow dunks.  He went to the line time and time again.  His defensive presence was obvious as for the first time in weeks players drove to the basket and then couldn’t get a shooting window so they forced in traffic passes.

The Knicks run a left side dribble handoff where Courtney Lee came from the corner for the handoff and curled tight into the lane time and time again in the third quarter. It allowed Courtney Lee to end up with 13 points in the 3rd

The end of the 3rd quarter was the game changer as the Jazz went from up to down 7 as we headed into the 4th

Donovan Mitchell had a tough night. He couldn’t find the room to have the impact he has had in some of the past games and his off the dribble three is not a very high percentage shot right now.   The Knicks even went under on a few high pick and rolls and dared him to shot.  He missed.

These three home losses to the Knicks, Pacers and Pelicans are going to make a playoff push hard to come by for the Jazz. They are 5 wins behind the Clippers for 8th and 5 wins ahead of the Kings for last in the West.