In the first half of Tuesday, the Utah killer Austin Rivers was unstoppable. The slumped Knicks guard dropped a career high of 25 points in 12 minutes and made his first 10 shots – five of them 3 points.
And the Knicks beat Jazz like earlier this month when Rivers got the last 14 points of the game.
But the magic stopped for Doc Rivers’ son. Rivers slipped on a ride and took his third foul at 4:30 in the first half and Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau decided to pull Rivers and his perfect game.
The night was never the same. Rivers didn’t come back until 4:11 a.m. was left in the third quarter, and had lost his hottest hands when the jazz at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City dropped from 15 to 15 points to catch on at the Knicks ( 108-94).
Rivers finished with those 25 when the Knicks (8-11) finished the western trip with four games with 1-3. Rivers missed all four of his shots in the second half as the Jazz of 3 heated up and the Knicks dropped the last three games of the trip after kicking off against Golden State.
It was an odd day for Rivers, who spoke to the media after the morning shootaround and raised two issues – caring for Kobe Bryant on the anniversary of his death and the club’s « fatigue » condition. Rivers struggled after scoring just seven points in their last four games.
As the game progressed, Rivers resembled Bryant in the first half before the entire team floundered for the last two quarters as the Jazz in its ninth game Episode won 13-4. « He’s helped me in times of doubt and failure, » said Rivers on the morning of Bryant. “He always came up to me and talked to me about all of my games, especially early [in New Orleans] when I was young. And especially when I’ve had problems. I didn’t play my best basketball in the first two and a half years. «
Rivers’ 25-point performance exceeded at least his father’s Knicks high of 24 in 1993. Rivers narrowly missed a Knicks record of 11 out of 11 to start a game.
That highly competitive pull-up by Rivers bounced off the edge on its eleventh try and failed to tie the team record for most shots made to start a game. The brand is shared by Johnny Newman, Bernard King and Mitchell Robinson.
Then Rivers committed a bad foul on Mike Conley with 2.4 seconds in the third quarter for thinking he had a foul to give, sending Conley to the free-throw line where he hit both to get Utah within 81-80 after three Conley led the comeback with 17 of his 19 points in the second half.
Utah started the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run to end it and the Knicks just fell apart.
« Oh, we’re definitely tired, » said Rivers after the shootaround on Tuesday morning eitplan, I would challenge everyone to set their schedule against ours. I don’t know how a schedule could be harder than what we played. «
That’s how the Knicks played in the second half. And Rivers didn’t help. Rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley, the star in the Portland loss on Sunday, finished 1 of 11 off the field. Alec Burks, who is his old one Team faced, was worse with 3 of 14.
The Jazz threw various defenders at Rivers in the first half and nothing stopped him, except like his own fouls. The last bucket of the rivers – a 3 from the corner – brought the Knicks 48-34 in the lead.
Despite the lack of rivers, the Knicks kept their bulge and led in the break 59-46. The Jazz doubled Rivers temporarily in the second half.
While Rivers was raging, Westchester-born Donovan Mitchell missed his first seven shots and was one of eleven at one point.Mitchell’s seventh consecutive miss was from a helping Robinson on a block from the free-throw line, causing the Jazz All-Star to be knocked to the ground.
The K nicks led 53-38 after RJ Barrett (17 points) let off a left 3 after a quiet eight-point night in Portland, where he sat on a bench for the fourth quarter.
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