KNICKS 99 SUNS 97 | US AIRWAYS CENTER
How it happened:
For the second time this season, J.R. Smith emerged as the hero with the Knicks leading scorer and MVP candidate on the sidelines.
First, Smith drilled an extremely difficult fading turnaround jumper over P.J. Tucker to tie the game at 97-97 with 10.6 seconds remaining in the contest. The Suns attempted to get Jared Dudley an open look by running him off screens and having him pop free near the 3-point line. Tyson Chandler quickly read the play and jumped the passing lane and Sebastian Telfair's pass was deflected by Jason Kidd. Chandler then forced Telfair to step out of bounds, which provided just one second for the Knicks to steal a win in the Valley of the Sun.
Smith received the pass deep in the left corner and he faded for an incredible game-winner at the buzzer to hand New York a 99-97 road win. The prolific scorer is only the fourth player in the last 10 seasons to have two buzzer beaters in the one month.
39-year old Kidd was also instrumental in the victory as Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton were unavailable for the back-to-back game. Kidd scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and made winning plays to help a shorthanded Knicks roster.
The Knicks improved to 21-8 on the season and swept the season series while Phoenix fell to just 11-18.
“Last one was my first game-winner. When we were going through the huddle, coach was drawing up the play and he looked at like we’re going to you, so that was big, just to show the confidence and everyone was telling me you are going to make, you are going to make it, so I think that gave me the extra emphasis to make it the shot.” -- J.R. Smith
Smith scored a game-high 27 points and registered his second game-winner of the season (the first in Charlotte). The shooting guard jumped off the bench, shot 11-of-27 from the floor, grabbed six boards, dished out five assists, and snatched five steals in 37 minutes of action.
New York improved to 7-1 on the season following a loss. The Knicks have only lost consecutive games once this season (November 21-23).
News and Notes:
Anthony was out with a hyper extended left leg suffered in the loss to the Lakers on Christmas Day. There is no timetable on his return to the floor. Felton missed the contest due to a sprained right pinky finger and X-rays at halftime revealed the fifth digit is fractured. The point guard said he could miss up to 4-6 weeks.
The Knicks stayed overnight in Phoenix and will board a plane on Thursday afternoon to Sacramento. On Friday night, the team will conclude the three-game road trip with a contest against the Kings.