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Knicks unable to hold off Jazz and center Rudy Gobert

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) shoots

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends during the first half during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in Salt Lake City. Credit: AP / Rick Bowmer

SALT LAKE CITY — Jeff Hornacek said he was going to start shortening minutes and give younger players more of a look. But he was trying to win this game on the court he called home seven seasons.

All five starters played at least 32 minutes, but it was for naught. The Knicks squandered a 13-point second-quarter lead and lost for the sixth time in seven games, 108-101, against the Jazz.

“I thought our team played really well for a long part of the game,” Hornacek said. “So I tried to keep those guys in, see if they could win it for us. They had to play some more minutes than we wanted. They were playing such a good game prior to that we wanted to try and win it.”

The Knicks (27-44) were outscored 21-14 over the final 5:59, and had no answer for Utah center Rudy Gobert for the entire night.

Gobert shot 13-for-14 and poured in a career-high 35 points to go with 13 rebounds and four blocks. Gordon Hayward scored 19, including 14 in the fourth.

Porzingis led the Knicks with 24 points. Derrick Rose added 17 and Carmelo Anthony 16. Neither of them scored in the fourth. Rose was hobbled at the end of the game with a right foot injury.

Knicks said X-rays on Rose’s foot were negative.

The Knicks are eight games out of the last playoff spot with 11 to play.

After a Porzingis bank shot tied the game at 87 with 6:13 left, the Jazz scored 11 consecutive points. Utah took a 98-87 lead after a George Hill layup with 3:11 remaining.

The Knicks closed to 98-92 on a Courtney Lee with 2:17 left. But on the next trip, after a Hayward miss, Gobert tipped it in.

Hornacek was cheered loudly before the game and even louder at halftime when the Jazz honored the 1996-97 team that reached the NBA Finals.

The starting shooting guard on that team, Hornacek was part of the halftime celebration that also featured Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan and all-time great point guard John Stockton.

The halftime festivities were part of a two-day celebration that included a dinner Tuesday night for the team that lost to Phil Jackson’s Bulls in six games. Reconnecting with old friends and reliving those memories brought Hornacek a little relief from his disappointing first year as Knicks’ coach.

“It gives you a couple of smiles, a couple of laughs in all this craziness with the way the season has gone,” Hornacek said. “It’s always good to go back to a team that had success playing and obviously I know a lot of people here. So it’s fun to do that. But hey, I want to try to get a win here.”

The Knicks got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter and were up 51-38 with 4:32 left in the first half.

They maintained a lead until a Joe Johnson put-back with 4:51 remaining in the third tied it at 63. Utah took its first lead of the game on the next trip after backup guard Raul Neto drove and scored.

The Jazz went ahead by five, but the third ended with the Knicks on top at 75-72.


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