KNICKS 106 SUNS 99 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
A familiar theme is beginning to develop at Madison Square Garden. Visiting teams are finding life miserable at the Mecca and Sunday afternoon’s 106-99 victory for the Knicks was no different.
After forcing seven Suns turnovers in the first 7 minutes of the first quarter, New York built a 21-8 lead. Once again, the home team displayed crisp ball movement and offensive flow that led to a dominate start to the contest.
Phoenix inched closer towards the end of the opening period with a 12-3 run but Chris Copeland and Steve Novak jumpstarted the Knicks offense to generate a double-digit lead. Copeland was forced into action following Rasheed Wallace’s ejection in the second quarter. Marcus Camby was also unavailable due to a sore foot. Copeland took full advantage of his court time when he smashed a follow-up dunk and then found Novak in the corner for a 3-ball. The reserve forward scored eight points in nine minutes, including 4-of-5 shooting from the floor.
Carmelo Anthony was also explosive in the first half as he buried back-to-back jumpers over P.J. Tucker in the late stages of the second quarter to provide New York with a 17-point advantage heading into the locker room. Anthony finished with a game-high 34 points to lift the Knicks to a 12-4 record an undefeated 7-0 mark at the Garden.
In the final stanza, Phoenix made a push and even trimmed the Knicks lead down to six points when Jared Dudley hit a 3-pointer at the 6:36 mark of the fourth quarter. Tyson Chandler crushed a two-handed putback dunk and Raymond Felton hit key buckets down the stretch to keep the Suns at arm’s length.
Felton was impressive in the win with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor, seven assists, and zero turnovers. Chandler pitched in another double-double, and Novak contributed 12 points off the pine.
Jason Kidd missed his fourth straight game while dealing with lower back spasms. Head coach Mike Woodson utilized the same starting lineup from the previous four outings with Kurt Thomas at the power forward spot and shifting Anthony back to the 3, and placing Ronnie Brewer at the shooting guard spot.
"Every game is not going to be a runaway for us. You have to give them credit, they played hard. They were scrapping down the stretch and made a game out of it. We were able to close it out and get the ‘W’, that is what counts.” -- Mike Woodson
“MVP” chants were loud and clear on Sunday afternoon while Anthony buried shots at the charity stripe. Anthony is performing like an MVP and today he registered 34 points in 37 minutes, hit 11-of-27 from the field, and snatched six boards. His timely buckets and hustle play in transition defense today was a great sign for one of the most talented players in the league.
Heading into the contest, New York ranked No. 5 in forced turnovers per game. Today, the squad made Phoenix cough up 17, which led to 23 points for the Knicks. Conversely, New York only committed eight turnovers and they rank No. 1 in the league in that category.
The Knicks will remain in New York on Monday before hitting the road the next day for a contest against the Bobcats on Wednesday night. New York will face the Heat and Bulls in a challenging trip away from MSG this upcoming week.