The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Jazz at Knicks 11/14/14

November 15th, 2014 | by David J Smith
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Jazz pulled out a 102-100 victory over the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden tonight, capped by a game-winning shot by Trey Burke as time expired. Here are three keys to the game:

1. Welcome back, Trey Burke

Trey Burke simply lives for clutch situations. In his prestigious collegiate career and during his rookie campaign, the diminutive point guard has relished the big shot or big play at the end of games. Friday versus the New York Knicks was no exception. In an expertly drawn up play by head coach Quin Snyder, Burke calmly drained a jumper over the arms of J.R. Smith and promptly fell right into the arms of his ecstatic teammates. It was a beautiful scene. These seem to be weekly occurrences for this young Utah Jazz squad.

The game-winner was the obvious highlight, but beyond that dramatic shot, Burke had his best game of the season. Much has been said about his struggles, some coming from yours truly. And yes, he has really struggled. But on Friday, he played with the poise and demeanor that impressed during large portions of his first year. He orchestrated the offense and made things happen within the game. Burke was 5-9 from the floor, including a trio of 3-pointers. He dished out eight assists with just a pair of turnovers1. Lastly, he registered a team-best +16 mark. While that stat has its flaws, it shows a glimpse into a player’s affect on a game.

This could be the game that turns around Trey Burke’s season, which would do wonders for a Jazz team that is already surprising many around the league.

2. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors were needed to come through with big games, and they complied.

Madison Square Garden has been the scene of many dramatic NBA battles. It has seen its fair share of big games and magical performances. It’s clearly one of the biggest, most exhilarating sporting venues in any sports. What NBA player does not get up for that? For the Jazz to pull out a win, they needed their pair of fifth-year studs, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, to step up on the MSG stage. And step up they did.

What else can be said about Hayward’s start? He has been playing exceptionally well, doing everything Snyder and Dennis Lindsey have asked of him and then some. Hayward was not intimidated by the arena or his match-up with Carmelo Anthony. Even when Melo was doing his Melo things, Hayward kept answering back. Scoring 33 points on just 18 shots is great alone. Add in six assists, four steals and three rebounds, and you have a guy who looks like a big-time player doing it on a big-time stage.

Favors was fantastic. He too did not back down and his stat line showed: 21 points on 15 shots, 12 rebounds (five offensive), a pair of assists and three big blocked shots. He made his presence known defensively despite Carmelo’s three over him to tie the game; not many would have been able to prevent Anthony’s huge trifecta. When Favors and Hayward are both on their games, it makes Utah a difficult team to defeat.

3- New York only had one starter show up. Okay, 1.4 guys showed up. 

Anthony is one of the NBA’s most unique talents. With his potent inside-outside game and his bullish, aggressive style, he is one of the toughest guys to defend. He kept pouring it on, despite Snyder throwing several different guys at him. Melo ended the night with 46 points and seven rebounds–yet another big outing. And yet another loss, due to limited contributions from the other four teammates.

While second-year point guard Shane Larkin was decent, the Knick starters did not do much on the court overall. Larkin, Jason Smith, Samuel Dalembert and Iman Shumpert joined forces to shoot just 7 of 23 from the floor for 15 total points. Last time I checked, that’s not too hot. Shumpert went out one minute into the game with a hip injury. Behind reserves Pablo Prigioni and J.R. Smith, New York’s bench fared much better, but the lack of production from the starters offset a lot of Melo’s efforts.

The Jazz are back in action north of the border tomorrow night, taking on the Toronto Raptors. Be sure to check back to Salt City Hoops for another Triple Team along with more great analysis.

David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife, Elizabeth, have some amazing children--four girls and two boys. Voted "Most Likely to Replace Jerry Sloan" in high school.
David J Smith


  1. Steven says:

    A few things i’m taking away from this game and this season.

    Losing this game would have hurt. New York aren’t a great side right now, but they have star that can almost win games on his own. After Indiana and Atlanta, losing this game could have hurt the confidence, despite the fact the Jazz could have won all three of those games and been sitting on a 6-4 record instead of the 4-6 record that this one win brings.

    4-6 with the games the Jazz have played, the playoff teams, the teams with star players and the long road trip is already an improvement on the Corbin team of last season, or any Corbin season really.

    This young Jazz team competes. Yes, it is going to struggle some nights against the best teams and against the biggest stars that the team doesn’t have the experience of playing against, and it will struggle bad in some of those matchups, some nights are going to be ugly, but on other nights it will be right up there competing to the end of clock. That is huge. That is going to make this season exciting. When the game is close they will have the chance of winning, Hayward has grown. Favors is growing up, Burke lives for clutch moments, Burks needs to channel his six man role from last year and find his place in starting role, but he’ll get it. Booker competes for everything on the floor. Gobert can disturb and harass when needed, Exum seems to be settling in easy, showing hints of something special to come, Kanter can be a bully when needed, Hood, Novac and Ingles all have their role. Why did I have to live in Utah when Corbin was around, and now I live in London watching it all on League pass in the early hours of the morning I ask myself?

    I don’t see Hayward getting an All Star berth in the next couple of seasons mostly down to the guys he’s competing with already being seen as All Star calibre and being on winning teams, but boy is he making a case for himself. His impact in games is impressive whether its scoring, making playing, drilling assists to teammates, or just competing hard and showing the way to his less experienced teammates is going to get noticed. The offence helps. He gets space and time now that no one seemed to get under Corbin unless your name was Big Al. His teammates around him are more threatening, giving him a little more time and space still. A better offense, better teammates around him earlier in his career I have to wonder where he would be at this stage of his career now. Better shooting percentages, a couple more points per game and maybe even increased assists is my guess.

    Happy for Trey. The final play didn’t look like it was designed for him at all. Great defence by Smith, and still perfect execution under trying circumstances for Trey. He seems to over try in the regular game, especially when he feels the pressure of missing shots, but in clutch time he seems to have the ability to free his mind of doubt and just makes good shots time and time again. If he gets the same coolness under regular game time the kid will be more than fine. Maybe its a case of wanting to set up for his teammates first and he’s not mentally ready for going back to himself when those setting up options are exhausted. If thats the case, its just a mental adjustment needed, and Trey seems to have the ability to make such adjustments, going by his clutch play.

    • David J Smith says:

      Steven, thank you for sharing you great thoughts here. I agree with you on a lot of your points. There is certainly a lot to be excited about right now. The fact that this team is competing right now, as you said, shows the impact Snyder is making. And the players are working hard and improving. Good times.

    • Mewko says:

      You have my pity.

      Hopefully you can move back to Utah around 2019. By then, Exum should be a star, Gobert, Burke, Burks will be refined vets, and key cogs, and hopefully Hayward and Favors shouldn’t be too much aged in their late 20s, early 30s.
      We’re gonna be good, probably us and the Pelicans in the western conference finals.

  2. Neal Hengge says:

    I have noticed the last few games that the Jazz change the way they play on offense with a lead and under three minutes to go. It seems like they try to run off the clock a little too early in the 4th and the offense sputters. I think the Jazz are at their best when they push the rock and keep the ball moving around. Against Atlanta and NY there was too much holding the ball for one shot at the end of the shot clock. It lost us the game in ATL and NY got back into it and almost won as well. I hope next time, the Jazz keep pushing it for a few more minutes and really go for the kill. Loving what I’m seeing overall this season. Go Jazz!

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