Knicks @ Suns – US Airways Center
When: Wednesday | 9:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Following Tuesday’s defeat, the Knicks moved down to 20-8 and just a half game behind the Miami Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference. New York still holds an above .500 record on the road (8-6) and will have the opportunity to gain ground with games against the Suns and Kings to conclude the three-game trip. Rasheed Wallace is still out with a foot injury, Amar’e Stoudemire is close to a return but said New Year’s Day might be a realistic date for his regular season debut, and Iman Shumpert continues to rehab.
Phoenix: On December 2, the Suns suffered a loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden and dropped to 7-11 on the season. Phoenix is just 4-6 since that first meeting with back-to-back losses heading into the Wednesday night matchup against New York. The four wins in that time span included impressive vicotires over the Grizzlies and Jazz to show signs of improvement. On the injury front, Phoenix is healthy except for Michael Beasley, who missed Sunday’s game with the flu and he is questionable for Wednesday’s contest. The 11-17 Suns are 3.5 games out of the final spot for the postseason if the playoffs started today and the team is 9-6 at home..
Last Time Out
New York: Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points and J.R. Smith added 25 in a 100-94 losing effort to the Lakers on Christmas Day.
Phoenix: Jared Dudley scored 19 points but the Suns fell to the Clippers 103-77 on Sunday night.
The Numbers Game
The Suns bench ranks No. 9 in the league by averaging 36.4 points per game while the Knicks bench ranks No. 10 by averaging 35.6.
Match-up to Watch
Tyson Chandler vs. Marcin Gortat
The Knicks frontline is a bit shorthanded while Wallace is dealing with a foot injury and Camby is attempting to regain his conditioning. The pressure for Tyson Chandler to defend and rebound at a high rate can cause foul issues for the big man. Chandler will look to have a more productive game after he fouled out and uncharacteristically shot 3-of-7 from the floor in the loss to the Lakers. On Wednesday night, Chandler will square off against the Suns 7-footer Marcin Gortat. In his fifth season, Gortat is averaging three more points and two more rebounds per game than his career numbers.
What to Look For
The Suns are far from the team that used to compete for Western Conference titles behind the direction of Steve Nash. Phoenix is clearly in the rebuilding stages and this specific matchup should allow the Knicks to move back into the win column and attempt to finish the road trip on a positive note. New York must establish dominance inside the paint after it was outscored 46-26 in the loss the Lakers last night. Additionally, the Knicks need contributors to join Anthony and Smith from a scoring perspective in order to snatch a road win in Phoenix.