The New York Knicks(21-8) came into the valley of the Suns on Wednesday night without their star forward Carmelo Anthony, without their starting point guard Raymond Felton, playing on the second game of their back-to-back, walked out of Phoenix with a win by beating the Phoenix Suns(11-18) 99-97 handing the Suns to their 3rd straight loss.
It was two prayer jumpers that were jacked up by J.R Smith which not only ultimately gave New York the victory but spoiled what was a career night for Jared Dudley. Dudley scored a career high 36 points on 11 of 17 shooting.
“It was premeditated,” Smith said. “I was walking around the court going, ‘You are going to make it, you are going to make it.’ I was trying to get my form ready before I even thought about taking it. I was trying to go through my mechanics in my head, get my shoulders square to the basket and just let it fly.”
Goran Dragic of the Suns went down during the closing moments in the first half after he was undercut by Knicks hero J.R Smith on a fast break lay-up. Dragic left the game with what was describe as hip, wrist and back contusions. Smith was given a flagrant one foul(Flagrant two ejects him from the game). Dragic did not return to the contest as Sebastian Telfair played in place of Dragic for the remainder of the game.
“J.R., he’s not that kind of player,” Gentry said. “He plays hard and he competes like crazy. It was an accident. It was one of those things that happens.”
The game was competitive from tip-off with the score at 29-27 in favor of New York after one but after a Jermaine O’Neal lay-up with 4:46 left in the 2nd quarter which set the score at 43-41 in favor of New York, the Knicks went on a 11-3 run to close out the half, and held a 54-44 lead going into halftime. New York was led in the 2nd quarter by Chris Copeland who scored 10 points in the quarter, including 8 straight.
The Suns midway through the 3rd quarter suddenly found themselves trailing 54-68 after a J.R Smith jumper with 6:13 left in the quarter. The Suns responded strongly with a 18-4 run capped off by a Jared Dudley 3-pointer with 2:10 to go in the 3rd quarter and the game was deadlocked at 72 apiece; the game was tied at 76-76 heading into the final period of play.
During the 4th quarter it was nothing short of a heavy weight boxing fight as both teams went back and fourth but neither team was able to bridge themselves from the other. However after a Copeland jumper for New York with 3:33 left in the game, New York had the advantage 95-90.
The Suns would respond with a 7-0 run with began with a Sebastian Telfair 3-pointer, carried on by a Shannon Brown 20 footer, capped off by a pair of Jared Dudley free throws and all the sudden it seemed like this was the Suns game to lose as they led 97-95 with 34 seconds left in the game.
But miraculously, J.R Smith underwent a transformation in which he became Michael Jordan for the final 10 seconds of the game as he drained a clutch fadeaway 18-footer with 10 seconds left to go. The Suns got the ball back but ironically enough it was the New York native Sebastian Telfair who committed a turnover after stepping out of bounds with 1 second left in the game which ultimately set-up the Smith game winner as time expired.
“I don’t know whatever words you want to use but he loves that moment,” Knicks guard Jason Kidd said. “I’m trying to figure out if that last shot was tougher than the one before that he took.”
This is the Suns 3rd straight loss and this loss hurts more than a typical loss because the Suns lost Goran Dragic, and to lose the game the way they did it’s safe to say a few guys will have some trouble sleeping tonight. Dragic’s status is listed right as day-to-day, however the fact that he didn’t return to the game is a bit troubling.
The Suns now will be preparing for a 3-game road trip which begins on Friday against the Indiana Pacers, then on Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves and will end in on Monday against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.