Donte DiVincenzo Devastates Jazz. NY 118 Utah 103

Donte DiVincenzo after hitting another 3. Photo courtesy NY Knicks.

Donte DiVincenzo lit up the game with frenetic energy, defense, blocked shots, steals, drives, and 3-pt shots to ignite the Knicks to a romp over the Utah Jazz, 118-103 on a Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks had a 1-point lead at 61-60 with 9 minutes left in the 3rd when the Knick team defense intensified, and the Knick offense exploded, with DiVincenzo at the heart of it. The other Knick starters — Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Precious Achiuwa, played like a gloved hand on defense and offense. NY went on an 11-point run and by end of the quarter were up by 25.

DiVincenzo finished with 33 points on 11-22 shooting (9-15 from 3), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, a block, and a +23. Brunson had 29 points and 9 assists with a +19. Achiuwa had 18 pts. Josh Hart had 10 pts, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists for his first career triple double. Hartenstein had 14 pts, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 assists. Quentin Grimes scored 12 pts off the bench.

There has been talk of the Knicks needing a 3rd star to be a championship contending club. Coach Tom Thibodeau has said the Knicks have all they need in that locker room. And since the Julius Randle injury, Donte DiVincenzo has shown he is that #3 star.

Thibs’ Thoughts

“Our guys are playing hard, they’re defending, they’re rebounding, they’re sharing the ball,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “They’re playing smart; they’re playing tough. I think that goes a long way. They’re bringing the best out of each other but we still have a long way to go.”

“Donte’s playing great basketball,” added Thibs. “And you can’t say enough about what Josh Hart brang — triple double. Jalen was Jalen. Isaiah looks like he’s got some rhythm back and that’s huge for us. Precious was phenomenal. We’re finding out a lot about him; playing two positions. Jericho gave us some really good minutes early. Deuce gave us really good minutes in the first half. Quentin took a shot but he came back and he’s playing well for us as well — both sides of the ball, very aggressive and I like to see that from him.”

NY improves to 31-17 and move into 3rd place in the Eastern Conference after a Philly loss later in the evening. Utah falls to 24-25.

1. Jazz Jump On Top — Knicks Come Right Back

The Utah Jazz had just been blown out by the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn the night before so were looking to bounce back from that. Utah had beaten the Knicks earlier in the season.

Utah is led by Lauri Markkanen, averaging 25.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, and shooting .391 from 3 and .875 in free throws. John Collins starts at power forward and Simone Fontecchio is at small forward. Kris Dunn provides hard defense at the shooting guard position, and Colin Sexton leads them at the point, averaging 14.3 ppg. Jordan Clarkson — who has been the target of Knick trade rumors — comes off the bench averaging 20.8 ppg,

Utah also has height in Walker Kessler (9 ppg off the bench) and Kelly Olynyk.

A Markkanen deuce and Collin Sexton 3 put Utah up 15-6 early in the game. But the Knick starters came right back — a DiVincenzo 3, Josh Hart bucket, and another DiVincenzo 3 and Utah’s lead was sliced to 18-16.

Precious Achiuwa hit a J to tie it and Brunson free throws put the Knicks up. By the end of the 1st quarter, NY was up 29-22.

2. NY Up by 8 at the Half

The 2nd quarter was more of the same — the Knicks  played aggressive, frenetic ball — looking to up the pace at all times and run the court.

DiVincenzo was at the heart of it, with Hart, and Hartenstein, and Brunson, and notably Precious Achiuwa — who was tremendous, scoring on buckets inside and grabbing big rebounds.

Utah was kept in it by Simone Fontecchio who kept hitting 3’s. Fontecchio was recently put into a starters role and is only averaging 6.3 ppg in 14 mpg and .330 from 3 but you wouldn’t know it watching this game. He was 4-8 from 3 for 14 points but it seemed like he hit 8 three pointers.

Quentin Grimes played well off the bench but went out midway thru the quarter with a sprained ankle, coming down on a defender’s foot.

3. Knicks Explode in 3rd

Utah took it to the Knicks out of the halftime break — Dunn hitting a couple of short jumpers, Markkanen hitting a J, and Sexton hitting a drive and then a 3 to make it a 61-60 game with 9:21 left.

  • But then Achiuwa hit a 10-footer, DiVincenzo hit a drive, Hartenstein stole the ball from Sexton, who fed DiVincenzo who fed Brunson for a drive-and-1 and NY was up 68-60 and the Garden was rocking.
  • DiVincenzo ripped down a rebound and fed Brunson for a 3 and NY was up 72-60 — an 11-pt run.
  • Isaiah Hartenstein made an off-balance hook inside that went in, then next time down took the ball at top of key — dribbled inside then fed Achiuwa for a layup-and-1 and NY was up 79-66.
  • Brunson missed a drive but Jericho Sims pulled down the offensive rebound and fed DiVincenzo for a 3 and NY was up 16 at 82-66. Jazz timeout.
  • Brunson then hit a 3 off a DiVincenzo assist to put NY up 86-66.
  • Next time down Brunson missed a 3 but the ball bounded out to DiVincenzo who hit a 3 and NY was up 89-66 with 2:05 left. Ballgame.

“Donte DiVincenzo can shoot the ball and makes himself much tougher by catching in triple threat, understands how to move without the ball along with his ability to take you off the bounce and get in lane which opens his jumper more,” observed NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Also, overplay and he makes u pay with an easy 2.”

4. Knicks Maintain Lead in the 4th

The Knicks maintained the big lead throughout the 4th.

Any Utah run was countered by Brunson taking it inside for his patented drives, or DiVincenzo 3’s. Hart made big plays, as did Hartenstein and Achiuwa and the rest of the Knicks. Quentin Grimes came back in the game and hit a 3 early in the quarter.

Utah finally pulled to within 13 with a minute left but it was too little way too late.

Another tremendous team effort and blowout win.

And today is Donte DiVincenzo’s birthday. He turns 27.

The Boxscore


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