Here are a few things to keep an eye on tonight during the Knicks-Jazz game:
Scoreboard watch: By the time they get into the locker room at halftime tonight, the Knicks may know if they have a chance to overtake Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks play the 76ers at 7:30 p.m. in Atlanta. This is the same Sixers team that snapped a 26-game losing streak on Saturday with a win over Detroit.
Atlanta has lost six straight, and there has been speculation (unfounded) in some circles that the Hawks have no interest in making the playoffs. They'd rather have a high pick in the 2014 NBA draft than be the eighth seed in the East -- as the thinking goes. If the Hawks lose tonight to Philly, that theory will only gain more traction.
The Knicks take on the Jazz in Utah in a game that tips off at 9 p.m. So they should know the result of the Atlanta game by halftime, if not shortly thereafter. If the Knicks win in Utah and the Hawks lose, the Knicks will take over the eighth seed by percentage points.
Utah is the worst team in the Western Conference, having lost five straight games and 15 of 17. In its latest defeat, the Jazz scored just nine points in the fourth quarter against the Thunder.
There's reason for the Knicks to be cautious, though. They have lost five of their last six games in Utah and have established an ugly pattern on this road trip of losing games in blowout fashion. They lost to the Lakers and Suns by a combined 55 points. New York is also 6-10 in the second game of back-to-backs.
"When we come out and have games like we did against L.A. and Phoenix," Carmelo Anthony said Sunday, "you look back and you're like, 'What the hell are we doing? Do we want it or not?'"
That question will be answered Monday night.
New York Knicks
Less or more from Melo? Anthony had an off night from the field on Sunday. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting, failing to reach 20 points for the first time in 24 games. Anthony came through when it counted, though, scoring four points in the final 1:25 to help seal the win.
Really, though, the Knicks got it done on the defensive end, holding the Warriors to 35 percent shooting and getting several key stops late in the fourth quarter.
If you're a Knicks fan, it was encouraging to see the team have success on an off night for Anthony. New York got a boost from Amar'e Stoudemire (15 points, 13 rebounds), J.R. Smith (21 points) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (15 points).
Will they get that kind of well-rounded performance from the supporting cast tonight?
"I just hope that we can build on this," Anthony said after the win over the Warriors. "Bring the same mindset and focus that we had, because if we don't go into Utah and get that one, [this win] is irrelevant."
The Say Hey Kid: One Jazz player the Knicks may want to keep an eye on tonight is Gordon Hayward. The guard/forward has scored 21.8 points on 45.6 percent shooting from the field over the past four games. It will be interesting to see how J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert (and whoever else Mike Woodson decides to throw at Hayward) fare against the former Butler star.
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