The amount of adversity the Suns had to fight through Monday against the Knicks is enough for an entire month, let alone one game.
They dealt with losing Markieff Morris early in the second quarter after he picked up his second technical foul in a matter of minutes. P.J. Tucker picked up two early fouls, which led to Carmelo Anthony scoring 13 first-quarter points. Tucker was in foul trouble most of the night along with Miles Plumlee, Marcus Morris and Gerald Green. Speaking of Green, the Suns also had to find points outside of Frye and him after they combined to go 5-for-28 from the field with Green missing all seven of his three point tries.
With all that said, Phoenix had a five-point lead with 4:50 to go and were able to force overtime before ultimately falling short in a 98-96 loss to New York at Madison Square Garden. The loss dropped the Suns to 21-16 and ended their five-game road trip with a 1-4 record.
The Knicks (15-22) led rather comfortably for the majority of the game and took a seven point lead into the fourth quarter when Leandro Barbosa got hot for the Suns by scoring the first eight points of the quarter. After scoring 14 of his 21 in the fourth, Barbosa’s two free throws with 1.2 left thanks to a controversial foul call forced the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, shots were just not falling for the Suns. Goran Dragic kept the Suns alive in the first three quarters and scored a team high 28 points, but he couldn’t get any of his drives to the hoop to fall. Playing 48 minutes on the fifth game of a seven night road trip might have played a factor into those tired legs — so did a tweaked ankle. Green and Frye each missed some good looks to fittingly end a night that was just not meant to be for either of them.
Anthony had his usual night of scoring points (29) with a high shot count (24). He did control the boards grabbing 17 balls of the glass for the double-double, but outside of this dominant first quarter the Suns did a nice job of controlling Anthony. Most of that has to do with Tucker being smart with his fouls and being able to remain in the game. Anthony had a couple chances at the end of regulation and overtime to put the game away, but Tucker’s pesky defense forced misses and gave the Suns extra chances. Felton had a nice game scoring 19 points on 8-16 shooting.
Let’s answer the pregame questions to see how the Suns fared in the keys to the game.
Can Phoenix keep New York off the offensive glass?
The Suns actually did a pretty good job keeping the Knicks off the offensive glass. They held them to 12 offensive rebounds, which is close to their average of 10.6. Kenyon Martin was the one guy who killed them on the glass grabbing four offensive rebounds, but other than that the Suns did a solid job.
Can Phoenix score points in the paint?
I guess we can say they did. They scored 36 points, but it came on 18 of 46 shooting. Plumlee had 12 points, but he never really solidified his offensive presence down low. Most of those points in the paint came on Barbosa and Dragic drives that came in the fourth quarter and led to the comeback that almost won the game for them. The Suns were controlling the game during those brief moments of being able to drive and finish. Unfortunatly for them, they could not maintain that pace for longer periods of time.
Will Amare and J.R. make a difference?
Not too much. Stoudemire finished with nine points and seven rebounds, solid numbers coming off the bench. His biggest impact came in the final two minutes of the third quarter when the Knicks gave it to him in the post three straight times. Stoudemire scored five of a possible six by going to the line twice and finishing an easy short shot. Other than that, his impact was minimal. Smith finished with a quiet 10 points and his biggest impact came early in the second quarter when he induced Morris to commit his second technical foul and his ejection.