SALT LAKE CITY - The Knicks won Tuesday's game in Portland with their defense. The following night against the Jazz, they lost, 131-125, because of their defense.
It was already a daunting task to face Utah as the second game of a back-to-back to end this four-game West Coast trip. The Knicks put up their usual fight, but they were overwhelmed by the Jazz (26-13), who had been off the past four days. Fouls dominated the game more than any single player, as the Knicks were whistled for 29 fouls. The Knicks' most important players, Raymond Felton (five) and Amar'e Stoudemire, totaled nine.
"That was the first time all year that we got into such foul trouble,'' said Stoudemire, who finished with 22 points on only 11 field-goal attempts. "Tough game when it's like that.''
Shawne Williams, who entered the game as the NBA leader in three-point shooting, led the Knicks with 25 points, including a blistering 7-for-8 from three-point range. Felton finished with 23 points and 11 assists in an all-star caliber matchup against Williams, who had 24 points and 12 assists. Both players are tied with Steve Nash to lead all NBA guards with 19 double-doubles. Both players finished three rebounds shy of a triple-double.
The Knicks (22-16) ended the trip with a 2-2 split, which is satisfactory. Mike D'Antoni came away from the game pleased with the fight that his group continues to show.
"We kept battling against a good team,'' he said. "To beat them here, we needed some help and they didn't give us any.''
With Stoudemire and Felton in foul trouble, the Knicks appeared to be on the ropes in the third quarter, as the Jazz opened up a 16-point lead. But then Williams suddenly got hot from three-point range, as he hit five over a four minute span - including a four-point play and three consecutive treys - to rally the Knicks to within 91-88 with 3:20 left in the third.
Still, the three-point barrage, led by Williams, wasn't enough to overcome the Knicks' defensive issues against the Jazz, who hit the 100-point mark by the end of the third. They then quickly regained a double-figures lead early in the fourth with two quick baskets off cuts by C.J. Miles (24 points) to make it a 104-94 lead. The Knicks' offense continued to pour in points, but the defense just couldn't get stops when they needed them most.
"C.J. Miles came in and hit a couple of shots that kind of took our legs out,'' D'Antoni said.
The Knicks made 14 of 29 from downtown as the teams totaled 24 three-pointers.
"I heard of couple of them say, 'You ain't gonna get no more,''' Williams said of the Jazz bench during his three-point barrage. "But I still got like three more.''
Bill Walker had 23 points -- 20 of which came in the first half - to combine with Williams for 48 points off the bench.
Notes & quotes
The seldom-used Roger Mason Jr. was pressed to service because Toney Douglas was held out of the game with a nagging strain in his left AC joint. Douglas also has pain in his right shoulder, but has been playing through it for most of the season. "You could see every time he got hit he winced and it's just not fun playing that way,'' D'Antoni said. "We might as well get him well. We need him well because we don't have an abundance of point guards.'' Douglas was in uniform, but he was only supposed to be there as an emergency backup. That emergency came with 1:31 left in the third quarter, when Felton picked up his fifth foul. "He was a little surprised I called on him,'' D'Antoni said . . . Stoudemire, who played just 27:30, also had to deal with a stinger in his left shoulder after he ran into Paul Millsap early in the game. Stoudemire said he lost feeling in his arm for a few seconds. "It's still pretty sore,'' he said . . . The Knicks haven't beaten the Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena since Nov. 14, 2005 . . . At halftime, fellow Russians Andrei Kirilenko and Timofey Mozgov met at midcourt and shared a few words and an embrace.