The New York Knicks hoped for a better performance in Phoenix after their worst showing of the season in Denver on Wednesday.
The New York Knicks were really hoping Friday would prove to be Opposite Day, and with good reason. After getting shellacked by Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in a 113-97 loss on Wednesday, New York’s road trip didn’t get any easier. Friday night meant facing Chris Paul and the rejuvenated Phoenix Suns, who beat the Knicks in a stunning come-from-behind victory on April 26.
In case you all forgot, that loss snapped the Knicks’ nine-game winning streak.
Seeing as how the Knicks shot just 38.4% as a team and committed 15 turnovers in Denver, a turnaround game was necessary. It was a new evening, trading out Colorado’s cool and brisk mountains for Arizona’s arid desert. After seriously cooling off, the New York Knicks were ready to get hot again.
Yet, there was a catch. Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley would miss the game with injuries, leaving the Knicks without some key bench scoring.
Suddenly, bouncing back from a bad loss became even tougher.
1st quarter: Runnin’ and gunnin’
For a time, the first quarter looked as though it belonged to the Suns. Phoenix went on separate runs of 10-0 and 9-0 and even led by 13 at one point. Cue the New York Knicks responding with a 19-2 run of their own, and they led 33-30 after one.
Simply put, this was classic Phoenix Suns offense in a nutshell. The pace was quick and Julius Randle literally took the ball and ran multiple times. He finished the quarter with 13 points and seven rebounds and another big game appeared in the works.
There was no question about it: both teams wanted the win bad even if it meant scoring out of their shoes.
Halftime report: Sticking together
After a high-scoring opening frame, the New York Knicks did anything but lose focus in the second quarter. The Suns went on a 9-0 run, but the Knicks still didn’t crumble. RJ Barrett scored seven of his 12 points before halftime, including a key three with less than a minute remaining.
New York also worked well together on defense, limiting Phoenix to shooting 37.8% from the field as a team. Chris Paul and Devin Booker had a combined 13 points on 3 of 10 shooting, and the Suns were awful from long range to the point of 28.6%.
The Knicks, meanwhile, shot an eye-popping 60% as a team by halftime.
3rd quarter: Trading blows
Phoenix led 90-88 after three, but not for the New York Knicks’ lack of trying. Both teams traded baskets throughout the third, and the Suns scored seven points in the last 30.5 seconds to take the lead.
The game was within reach, but the Knicks needed to tighten up their defense and stop trying to outrun the Suns.
4th quarter: Scorched by the Suns
The New York Knicks in the fourth quarter? Well, where to begin?
They were outscored 38-17 and went nearly three and a half minutes without scoring a basket as Phoenix ran rampant. Jae Crowder’s trio of threes early in the fourth might as well have been the final nails in the coffin.
Even without Quickley and Burks, there was no reason for the Knicks to crumble to a 128-105 loss. They played clownish basketball, and we all know what that means.
Player of the Game: Julius Randle
Randle never lived up to his hot start in the first quarter, but still finished with a double-double to the tune of 24 points and 11 rebounds.