Photo Credit: Kim Raff, AP

Operation “Knicks Tank” is in full effect

Operation “Knicks Tank” has been fully deployed since the beginning of December. After starting the month off strong with a victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks have dropped eleven of their last twelve games. There aren’t many teams who are capable of pulling off such exquisite tanking tactics. Last night against the Utah Jazz, the “Knicks Tank” kept rolling through the beautiful ambiance of Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.

Utah’s defense hounded the Knicks throughout the game

Under the leadership of coach Quin Snyder, the Utah Jazz has turned into a formidable team. This season, the Jazz has been struggling to play .500 ball. Coming into the game against the Knicks, the Jazz suffered a beatdown at the hands of the Philadelphia Sixers. Unfortunately for the Knicks players, the Jazz decided to take out their frustrations on them.

Now, it’s unknown what Snyder said to rile up his troops. Whatever he told them before the game, had the Jazz racing through the gates like bloodhounds. Throughout the game, the Jazz hounded the Knicks on defense. Everywhere a Knicks player turned, there was a Jazz player there waiting to turn him back the other way. In the first half, the Knicks couldn’t buy a basket, not even buy candy from the corner store. The Jazz defense had the Knicks pledging “Broke Phi Broke” by the end of the night.

Utah dominated the paint

Snyder’s men did a lot of things right in their 129-97 beatdown of the Knicks. What was most impressive about the Jazz last night was their domination of the paint. On many occasions, the Knicks tried to penetrate the paint but failed. It didn’t matter if Rudy GobertDerrick Favors, or if Snyder put in a guy from the local convenience store in Salt Lake City to guard the paint, the Knicks would have been stopped in their tracks.

Gobert treated the Knicks like a JV team in the paint. He used his tall 7’1″ frame and lengthy wingspan to grab rebounds over Knicks players, and Jazz guards often found him on the pick-and-roll to finish at the rim. Overall, Gobert finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds on 10-of-12 shooting which are Shaq-like numbers. Favors and Thabo Sefolosha also dominated the boards by grabbing 10 rebounds each. As a team, the Jazz out-rebounded the Knicks 64-39 and outscored the Knicks 70-26 in the paint.

Easily the worst game of the season for the Knicks

Simply put, the Knicks were outplayed, outhustled, outclassed, and out-every word in the dictionary by the Jazz. Towards the end of the first half, it seemed like the Knicks would go into the break down by 40, but a three by Tim Hardaway Jr. at the buzzer covered up the Knicks blemishes slightly. Last night’s first-half performance was easily the worst for the Knicks this season. Also, the Knicks set a franchise record for the worst first-half deficit in team history, 37 points.

The only positive for the Knicks was Trey Burke

In blowout losses, it’s hard to point out any positives in the game. This game is no different, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see coach David Fizdale pull up from thirty, throw the game notes away, and tell his players to forget this game and focus on coming out with fire for the next game. Despite the beating the Knicks took in Utah, there is one positive Fizdale can transfer to the next game against the Denver Nuggets. That positive is Trey Burke.

After receiving a DNP in the previous game against the Bucks, Fizdale called Burke into action late in the Jazz game. When Burke entered the game, the Knicks were getting thrashed 113-69, a 44-point deficit. Due to his strong play, the Knicks were +11 with Burke on the court.

Even though Burke’s production came in garbage time, he played with a lot of heart. Many players at that point would have just thrown in the towel and cruised until the clock hit zero. Burke finished with 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting, and it’ll be interesting to see if Fizdale will give him more playing time against the Nuggets.

Knicks fans, the “Knicks Tank” continues to roll along. Now, the Knicks are one loss closer to possibly locking down a top-3 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

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