Suns Strokes: Phoenix routs Knicks as playoff race heats up
Before Friday’s game, Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek wasn’t sure if his team — a winner of five in a row — was playing its best.
After the game and after a 112-88 home victory against the Knicks, he changed his tune, at least for one night.
“I think overall, it was probably the best performance of the year,” he said.
Leading the way, as he has for much of the season, was Goran Dragic. He scored a game-high 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting including 5-of-9 from three. It was his ninth 30-point performance of the season.
“We played as a team and when we play the right way, it’s really tough to beat us, and I think nobody can stop us,” said Dragic, who required five stitches to close a cut above his left eye.
The Suns placed five players in double figure and dominated in just about every statistical category: rebounds (56-37), points in the paint (46-24), second chance points (32-21) and fastbreak points (26-8).
“We just never had good floor balance coming back and they were just running it right up our butts,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said.
Added Carmelo Anthony. “We just weren’t ready for them. We weren’t prepared for them and they ran us out of the gym tonight.”
Anthony, the league’s No. 2 scorer at 28.2 points per game, needed 20 shots to score 21 points.
“You’re never going to shut him down, just slow him down and make him take tough shots and try to get some transition on him and we got a chance to do that today,” said PJ Tucker, who added some offense (11 points) to his excellent defense.
Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris each scored 16 while Miles Plumlee (11 points, 12 rebounds) added his 11th double-double of the season.
With their season-high sixth straight win, the Suns have the second-longest active streak in the NBA. More importantly, they jumped to seven place in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Memphis.
Dragic scored 14 points in the game’s first 10 minutes, hitting all five of his shots including three 3s. He ended the quarter with 18 points, six coming in a 15-4 Suns run to close the first quarter.
The Morris twins combined for 20 points (Markieff 11, Marcus nine) in the second quarter, in which the Suns outscored the Knicks 18-3 in the final 7:12 of the half.
Plumlee’s alley-oop slam punctuated a 13-5 run to give the Suns their largest lead of the game, 82-50 with 6:40 to play in the third quarter. The 32-point advantage established a new season-high, surpassing the 29-point advantage on Dec. 30 at the Los Angeles Clippers.
Channing Frye missed all four of his shots — all 3s — after making 6-of-15 in the past two games.
Gerald Green, battling tendinitis in his hand, missed six of his eight attempts and is now shooting 7-of-21 in the past two games.
The Suns saw a 32-point lead trimmed to 17 early in the fourth quarter. They were outscored 16-6 in the final six minutes of the third and 9-4 in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Suns shot 14-of-33 (42.4 percent) from three-point range to record their fourth consecutive game with at least 12 made 3s while shooting at least 40 percent from beyond the arc. The four straight games doing so ties for the longest streak in Suns’ history.
HE SAID IT
“I don’t know what is going on,” said Dragic about getting hit by a Tyson Chandler elbow late in the second quarter. “It’s always the left eye. This is like the fifth time. Now every time I take a photo for my passport, I’m turning to this side.”
During the current six-game winning streak, the Suns have averaged 107.8 points while only allowing 96.8 points and giving up 95 points or fewer in five of the six contests. The Suns are shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 77.2 percent from the free throw line, while shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc and making 11.8 three-pointers.
During a secondqquarter timeout, Tim Boven of Peoria hit a half-court shot in the Casino Arizona Lucky 7s Shootout to win $77,777.
The Suns make the quick trip to Los Angeles for a brief one-game stop. They play the Lakers for the fourth and final time of the season. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The Suns are 3-0 against the Lakers, looking for the season sweep for only the third time in the history of the rivalry (2004-05, 1992-93). The Suns have won four straight in the series, including the most recent matchup, 121-114 on Jan. 15 at US Airways Center.