SALT LAKE CITY — Derrick Favors knew the Utah Jazz would need an offensive lift with leading scorer Gordon Hayward out with a back injury.
The Jazz were already the fifth-lowest scoring team in the NBA, so taking out a near 20-point scorer was a significant hit.
Favors responded with 29 points and 12 rebounds as the Jazz beat the New York Knicks 87-82 on March 11 to tie a season high with their third straight victory.
Utah has won eight of 10 games since the All-Star break.
“When a guy like Gordon goes down, another guy has to step up,” Favors said. “I took it upon myself in the first half to try to get things going. In the second half, everybody else got going.”
Both teams struggled to score as the Jazz were without Hayward (back) and the Knicks have been injury-plagued all season. New York missed Tim Hardaway Jr. (back) for the second consecutive game.
The Jazz relied on Favors and their defense in the first half to take a 43-35 lead into the break, but the Knicks dropped a 30-point third quarter to make it a game.
Reserve Rodney Hood tied a career high with 17 points for the Jazz, including 13 in the third quarter, while Rudy Gobert added 10 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
Hood and Favors carried the offensive load in the fourth after the Knicks took a two-point lead. Joe Ingles hit two jumpers to give the Jazz a 78-73 lead after the Knicks tied it at 73 with 6:29 remaining.
“Tonight was a case of getting out of character and guys doing too much stuff on their own on both ends,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Communication wasn’t good. First three plays of the game were breakdowns. We made just enough plays.”
Alexey Shved had 21 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Knicks. Andrea Bargnani finished with 20 points. Shved and Cole Aldrich combined for 13 fourth-quarter points to push the Jazz to the brink.
The Knicks have struggled to score all season with a mish-mash lineup and entered the game averaging 92.3 points, the second-lowest in the league.
“That is hard for any team,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said about his ever-changing lineup. “We are going through it this year and it is unfortunate. But, I think we are continuing to try and press forward and come to work every night still with a positive mindset.
“That is why we had a chance to win the game tonight it would’ve been easier to feel sorry for ourselves after last night. Guys keep coming back, we’re losing games but they are still showing some character and some fight and we still have to respect that about them.”
Hayward missed his first game of the season with a lower back strain. His 19.5 points per game ranked No. 16 in the league before the game.
“He’s been playing through some tightness for a while,” Snyder said. “It’s an NBA season and guys get banged up and they get sore, whether it’s a knee or a back or a foot. It’s something he’s been getting treatment on.”
KAREEM COPELAND, AP Sports Writer
Source: The National Herald