The Utah Jazz routed the Knicks 89-58 Friday night, New York's lowest point total since the shot clock was introduced. The Knicks had as many turnovers (25) as they had baskets, and shot just 39 percent.
"Tonight was as big a disappointment as I've experienced," coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "How we lost is a great disappointment. The turnovers are way up and the offense way down. The attitude is real bad. We're fighting ourselves. A lot of internal things cropped up. More than ever before."
The Knicks managed just 13 points in the first quarter, 12 in the second and 10 in the fourth. They went nearly five minutes without a point against Utah's second unit and trailed by 15 at the half and the Jazz doubled that margin in the second half.
To make things worse, the star for the Jazz was ex-Knick John Starks, who celebrated his return to Madison Square Garden by scoring 18 points against his former team.
"The guys did a great job finding me," Starks said. "My mind was clear. I got up and shot the ball."
Karl Malone, who became the second-highest scorer in NBA history last week when he passed Wilt Chamberlain, also had 18 for the Jazz.
The Knicks got into trouble early when Kurt Thomas and Allan Houston were called for offensive fouls on consecuive possessions. Then a monster jam by Marcus Camby and a steal by Chris Childs were erased by fouls.
It was too many mistakes to make against the Jazz, equipped with the best record in the Western Conference despite two straight losses. Utah took advantage, going on a 20-8 run to take control. Starks was in the middle of much of it, enjoying the chance to make a statement against his old team.
"I didn't look at it as coming in here to do something like that," Starks said. "We just needed to get a win after losing two straight at home."
By early in the fourth quarter, Utah's lead increased to 25 points and the reserves had taken over. When Starks came to the bench, he had a huge grin and was hugged by teammates, who knew how much the game meant to him.
It was a dramatic turnaround for Starks, who was scoreless in 26 minutes in his last game on Wednesday against Milwaukee. He had been averaging just 9.7 points in 20 games with the Jazz.
Before the game, Starks shrugged off his slow start.
"We're winning, that's the most important thing," he said. "I'm starting to settle into the scheme of things. In another month, things will be running smooth."
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