Josh Hart everywhere in debut as Knicks beat Jazz 126-120

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Josh Hart in his Knicks debut
New York Knicks guard Josh Hart watches warmups before the team’s NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Much was made about whether Josh Hart was worth the cost the New York Knicks paid to acquire him at Thursday’s trade deadline. In just one game, Hart may have silenced all of those criticisms, inspiring the Madison Square Garden crowd in a 126-120 win over the Utah Jazz

Hart’s value to the Knicks was evident early on, even as he struggled with his shot and early foul trouble. Head coach Tom Thibodeau never wavered in his belief in Hart, and the newest Knick rewarded him for it. 



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Josh Hart finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and four assists while knocking down 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. 

Hart had four offensive rebounds and snapped a 101-all tie with 6:44 left in the fourth quarter when he nailed a corner 3 off of a feed from Jalen Brunson, his former college teammate at Villanova. While Hart has struggled from beyond the arc this season, we mentioned earlier in the week that fans should expect some positive regression

It came on Saturday when he hit two massive triples in the fourth quarter to help keep the Jazz at bay.

Jalen Brunson paced the Knicks with 38 points, scoring 22 in the first half, Julius Randle added 31 for New York, which has won three of four to improve to 31-27 on the season. R.J. Barrett scored 20 points before fouling out, and Immanuel Quickley finished with 15.

Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points to lead the Jazz, who lost for the fourth time in five games. Jordan Clarkson had 24, Talen Horton-Tucker added 23 off the bench and Collin Sexton finished with 15.

Even after Hart’s big three with six minutes left, the teams traded baskets deep into the fourth quarter, culminating with Clarkson’s 12-footer which tied it at 109.

Consecutive three-pointers from Brunson and Barrett gave New York a 115-109 lead with 3:49 left. A few moments later, Randle’s third 3 extended the advantage to 118-109. On New York’s next two possessions, Randle had a baseline dunk and found Hart with a cross-court pass that pushed the lead to 123-114.

The Knicks would never look back. 

Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart's college teammate, scores for the Knicks
New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives against Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

While Hart’s addition was tremendous for the Knicks tonight, his arrival did seem to cut into Quentin Grimes’ minutes. The shooting guard played just 22 minutes on Saturday and Thibodeau used Hart to close out the game instead of Grimes; however, some of that could have been that Grimes was having an off night. 

Yet, no excuse can be made for the limited minutes for Obi Toppin, who has only played 20 total minutes in New York’s two games since the trade deadline. It’s unclear what his role will be going forward now that Thibodeau trusts Hart to do the physical, dirty work that’s been missing. 

For one game, none of those questions matter. Josh Hart provided the energy that this Knicks team needed. He gave them heart. 

“Obviously on the court, there’s a lot of things I’m excited about, with teammates and (coach Tom Thibodeau) and the front office I’m familiar with,” Hart said before the game. “It’s my third time getting traded, sixth year in the league, fourth team, sixth head coach. It’s been a whirlwind. I didn’t think that was how my first six years were going to be, but I’m looking for a home, and I think this could be it.”

If the performance on the court and the reaction of the fans is any indication, a lot of people would like this to be Josh Hart’s home. He got the Garden crowd even more fired up after the game, getting a standing ovation from the remaining fans after saying, “All I gotta say is I’m a dawg, and I’ll do it every game.”

Knicks fans certainly hope that will be the case.

Additionally reporting by the Associated Press


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