Knicks hope to stay hot against Suns

10:23 AM, Jan 13, 2014   |    comments
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( - The New York Knicks have yet to defeat a Western Conference opponent at home this season and will try to alter the results Monday versus the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks are 0-6 against the West as the host and previously defeated a team from that conference last March 27 versus Memphis. They are 6-12 overall at Madison Square Garden, where they have won back-to-back games.

New York has won a season-high four in a row overall and is coming off Saturday's 102-92 road defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers. Playing in the 700th game of his career, Amare Stoudemire scored a game-best 21 points off the bench and Carmelo Anthony netted 18 with nine rebounds and seven assists. He is second in the NBA with 26.1 points per game.

J.R. Smith, who was benched the previous game versus Miami, came off the pine to score 14 points for the Knicks, who are 5-1 in the new year and last ripped off five straight wins during a 13-game run from March 18 - April 9, 2013.

The Knicks outscored the Sixers, 64-40, in the second and third quarters.

"I just wanted to be aggressive, attack, get back to my old self, play with a chip on my shoulder and it worked," Smith said. "It was very important for me as well as the team to get out there and be successful with scoring the ball and getting my teammates open shots."

Iman Shumpert had just seven points, but is averaging 15.8 ppg in his past five contests. Tyson Chandler missed his third straight game Saturday due to an upper respiratory illness and is questionable Monday.

After the Knicks host the Suns, they will play two straight on the road at Charlotte and Indiana before returning to MSG for an eight-game homestand.

Phoenix will put the finishing touches on a five-game road trip and is 1-3 on the trek so far. The Suns are 2-4 in January and dropped a 110-108 decision at Detroit on Saturday, as Pistons forward Josh Smith banked in the game-winning basket with 1.2 seconds left.

Gerald Green of the Suns was fouled by Smith on a 3-point attempt and made all three of his foul shots, but Smith answered on the other end. Green's desperation shot at the end was off the mark.

"The last time I had the opportunity in New York, I settled for a jump shot. I wanted to be aggressive. I learned from that play that I made. I wanted to put the onus on the officials and I was able to get a good look at it," Smith said.

Channing Frye scored a team-high 21 points and P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris scored 17 points apiece for Phoenix, which is 9-10 on the road and erased an 18-point deficit in the closing minutes. Tucker also grabbed 11 rebounds, while Green and Goran Dragic scored 15 points apiece.

"If you just turn it on for 24 minutes you're not going to win a lot games. That is something we are going to have to correct," said Suns coach Jeff Hornacek.

Dragic is averaging 22.4 points in his last seven games and Frye is posting an average of 16.0 points over that stretch. The Suns fell to 18-5 when scoring 100 or more points and will start a five-game homestand Wednesday versus the Los Angeles Lakers.

Phoenix lost both meetings with New York a season ago and is just 6-10 in the past 16 encounters at Madison Square Garden.

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