Sam SpiegelmanThe New York Knicks find themselves in a heavy weight battle as they chase the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, and the team is continually taking blows.
Friday night, it came compliments of the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns routed the Knicks on their home court, 112-88, the team’s third loss in its last four games.
Again, it seemed as if the Knicks did not show up ready for a pivotal game. Goran Dragic exploited their defense, scoring a game-high 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting form the floor, including five 3-pointers. Afterwards, the Suns’ leading man admitted the Knicks barely put a hand in his face.
“They didn’t play good defense,” Dragic said of the Knicks, who allowed the Suns to shoot better than 45 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc. “So tonight we could get everything that we want. We swing the ball two and three times, I’m sure we get an open guy.”
It was a similar case on the offensive end, as the Knicks struggled to find offense, even from Carmelo Anthony. Anthony finished with 21 points, seven below his season average,and connected on eight of his 20 shot attempts. Amar’e Stoudemire followed with 19 while J.R. Smith added 15, but Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler combined for seven. As for the bench: a total 26 points.
Why the Knicks fail to show up on either end of the floor consistently remains a mystery, especially since the Atlanta Hawks — losers of five in a row — are giving them ample opportunity to make up ground. After Friday night’s loss, the Knicks remain within two games of the No. 8 spot.
“We just weren’t ready for them,” Anthony said. “We weren’t prepared for them, and they ran us out of the gym.”
“We are playing for something and it is disappointing because we just can’t afford to give games away,” coach Mike Woodson said.
Atlanta takes on the playoff-bound Washington Wizards Saturday before hosting the record-bad Philadelphia 76ers Monday night. The Hawks begin April with contests against Chicago, Cleveland and Indiana.
As for the Knicks, the team closes out its West Coast swing with the Golden State Warriors Sunday and the Utah Jazz Monday before returning home to host Brooklyn and Washington.
While the Hawks seem to have a difficult slate ahead, the Knicks’ road may be even tougher, as this road trip has proven the team has struggled to show up on a consistent basis. Like a heavy weight fight, let’s see if the Knicks can get stand up and deliver a blow of their own.