The New York Knicks took on the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City and staved off a late run from the Jazz to win 117-115 behind an explosive effort from Tim Hardaway Jr.

Recent struggles from New York were postponed for a bit as they won a rare game on the road out West.

Let’s take a closer look at the action:


THJ heats up

Hardaway Jr. took 20 games off to heal a stress injury to his leg. It looks like all that time paid off.

After putting up 31 points tonight, THJ brought his scoring average since returning to 22 points per game, well over his career average of 11.6 points per game. For the Knicks, a team starved for an outside threat outside of Kristaps Porzingis and Courtney Lee, need THJ to stay as sharp as he has.

He’s mixed it up well, and showed off the whole trick bag against the Jazz — canning threes off of both stepbacks and catch-and-shoot opportunities.

Trey Burke: Defensive Specialist?

Trey Burke exploded into the national spotlight after his March Madness heroics carried the University of Michigan to the NCAA championship game in 2013, which they lost to Louisville 82–76. Burke was godlike, draining pull-up threes from all over the floor and driving hard to the hoop for acrobatic layups in crunch time.

That was almost five years ago. Since then, Burke has gone from an NBA prospect some were touting as a poor man’s Allen Iverson to a bust with the Utah Jazz, and now back to the Knicks’ prized reclamation project. Instead of offering electric offense as an undersized scorer, though, Burke has made his name as a high-motor defender since being called up from the New York’s G League team, the Westchester Knicks.

Always known as a hard worker at Michigan, Burke has brought that same mentality to his new stint with the Knicks, and done all the dirty work Jeff Hornacek and the rest of the coaching staff ask of him. He hounds ball handlers, and despite being small for a point guard, Burke is able to use his lateral quickness to stay with guys and funnel them towards inside help. At one point in the game, he even tried to box out Rudy Gobert. The shot went in, so there was no jump ball between the 6’1″ Burke and the 7’1″ Gobert, but Burke’s willingness to put a body on the towering Gobert is a good sign for Burke’s possible longevity in this league.

He’s also got a pretty floater now that he didn’t have in college:

Knicks Defense Survives

Despite a lot of talk about Porzingis’ poor shot selection as of late, the Knicks’ biggest problem in their recent slump has been their horrendous defense. KP has been above average on that end, averaging a league-best 2.4 blocks per game despite occasionally blowing a perimeter rotation or two, but everywhere else, the Knicks seem to hemorrhage points.

It doesn’t help that one of the Knicks most reliable scorers recently, Michael Beasley (never thought I’d say that sentence ever), is a defensive sieve, and Ron Baker, whom the Knicks signed to a big contract to be a defensive stopper, has had a hard time containing pick-and-roll ball handlers on that end.

But the Knicks survived tonight. THJ has been dialed in on that end, Burke looks to offer a boost, and Porzingis has saved some of the energy he usually uses to hoist terrible shots to deter more shots at the rim. Their defense wasn’t perfect, and the Jazz capitalized in the fourth quarter thanks to a late push from Donovan Mitchell, who was cold all night, and Rudy Gobert, who was a monster in his return to the court.

Still, New York did enough and they earned themselves a rare road win, crucial for keeping their playoff hopes alive.

The Knicks will play the Lakers at the Staples Center on Sunday at 3:30 in a quest to keep those bleak hopes alive.