Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks (12-4) defeated the Phoenix Suns (7-11) by the score of 106-99. Box Score
The Knicks raced out to a 21-6 lead early in the first quarter, but Phoenix put together a run, and following the quick ejection of Rasheed Wallace, the Suns closed within four by the end of the quarter.
The Knicks, however, were able to blow the game open in the second, thanks in large part to the unexpected contributions from Chris Copeland, who shot 4-of-5 from the field, for eight points, while filling up the stat sheet with three boards, two assists to go with a steal and a block.
Anthony was mostly brilliant again for the Knicks, finishing with a game-high 34 points, to go with 6 rebounds, and adding a couple nifty plays on the defensive end, as well, adding two blocks and a steal to help secure the win. Carmelo did struggle with his shot a little bit down the stretch as Phoenix mounted their charge, but he was generally the force he’s been all season long.
Raymond Felton had one of his best games of the season, scoring 23 points to go with his seven assists, as Felton also hit several big shots down the stretch while Phoenix was trying to rally.
Tyson Chandler continued his impressive play on the offensive end, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor to finish with 15 points, 13 rebounds and a pair of blocks. He was extremely active on the defensive end, as well.
J.R. Smith suffered through a nightmare from the field, finishing 1-for-11 for only four points, but he did chip in with five rebounds and four assists.
Steve Novak added 12 points off the bench, drilling four three-pointers in the ballgame.
The final score is a little misleading in this one, but to the Suns’ credit, they were able to hang around throughout the fourth quarter, and while the game was never really in doubt, a couple missed free throws from Ronnie Brewer with the Knicks up six and under a minute to go made for a few mildly uncomfortable moments late in the proceedings as Phoenix was able to cut it to four on the ensuing possession, but the Knicks made free throws down the stretch to clinch the win.
New York continued to take care of the ball, committing only seven turnovers.
The Knicks are now 7-0 at home this season and are 18-1 at MSG in the regular season since Mike Woodson took over as the head coach.
You could quibble with the Knicks’ inability to put the hammer down on Phoenix in this one, but outside of a few nervous moments in the end, the game was never really in doubt, as the Knicks built a big lead early and then held on for the 106-99 win, continuing their early season dominance at Madison Square Garden.
Perhaps growing weary of all the recent praise heaped on backup Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton poured in one of his best games of the season. Felton continues to shoot brilliantly from the outside, going 3-for-6 from downtown in this one, and he made several clutch baskets down the stretch as the Suns tried to steal the game — a thievery that would have been uncalled for.
As has been the case all season, once again the Knicks got production from an unlikely source as Chris Copeland provided a spark off the bench in the second quarter following the quick ejection of Rasheed Wallace in the first. Wallace’s day lasted just over a minute, as the officials took exception to his “Ball Don’t Lie!” exclamation following a disputed foul call and sent him packing for the day, something that was as ridiculous as it was semi-amusing. But Copeland stepped in ably with some real scoring punch as New York built the majority of its lead. Copeland didn’t see any more action in the second half, but it was nice to see such a capable performance when he got the opportunity.
Some might have found fault in some of Carmelo’s shot slection, as his 34 points came on 11-of-27 shooting, but I still thought it was a solid effort from Melo. He controlled the game for the Knicks most of the way, and played hard throughout, as he continues to be the catalyst for pretty much everything good that’s happening with the Knicks this season.
Next up is a trip on Wednesday to Charlotte to take on Kemba Walker and the Bobcats. Charlotte’s been something of a surprise, having already matched last season’s total of seven wins. Seven. The Bobcats won seven times ALL of last season. Seven. That really is bananas. Nonetheless, New York would like to get that one in the books with games against Miami, Chicago and Denver looming on the horizon.