Kanter, Knicks end long trip with 22-point win over Suns
PHOENIX (AP) The New York Knicks did not look like a worn-out team playing consecutive nights at the end of its longest road trip of the season.
Instead, the Knicks methodically and persistently took it to the young and frequently frustrated Phoenix Suns.
Enes Kanter scored 15 of his 20 points in the first quarter and the Knicks never trailed in a 107-85 victory on Friday.
”Most teams cash that last one in because they are ready to go home,” New York coach Jeff Hornacek said. ”Our guys didn’t.”
Kristaps Porzingis added 19 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. 15 for the Knicks on the final stop of a seven-game trip that ended with games on consecutive nights at Denver and Phoenix. Trey Burke scored 15 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter for New York.
”They really got after it. They made a concerted effort to really go out there every play,” Hornacek said. ”I told them after the game I don’t think there was one stretch of a two-minute period where we let up.”
T.J. Warren scored 20 points, and Josh Jackson had 18 for Phoenix.
The Suns’ Devin Booker was ejected after drawing his second technical foul with 4:03 left in the third quarter. He also was called for a flagrant 1 foul earlier in the quarter. Booker scored 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
He wasn’t the only one frustrated with the officiating.
”I think we all were,” Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano said. ”But we have to be able to handle it a lot better than we did for sure.”
The 85 points matched the fewest allowed by the Knicks this season and came after they gave up 130, 123 and 127 in their previous three games, all losses.
”I think we knew if we wanted to win this game it had to be defensively,” Kanter said, ”and I think we did a really good job.”
Phoenix never led for the second game in a row, losing its third straight and sixth in its last seven.
New York opened the second half with a 14-2 run to lead 67-51 on Porzingis’ fast-break dunk. The run featured the flagrant foul against Booker, who grabbed Hardaway by both shoulders on a breakaway dunk, pulling the Knicks guard backward onto the floor on a layup attempt.
Knicks: New York went 3-4 on the trip. … Knicks haven’t played at home since a loss to New Orleans on Jan. 14. … New York has no road trip longer than four games the rest of the season. … Knicks swept the two games against the Suns this season after Phoenix won both in 2016-17. … Knicks are 12-12 against the Western Conference. … New York improved to 12-9 when shooting at least 48 percent.
Suns: Phoenix was down to one true center, Greg Monroe, after Tyson Chandler was a late scratch due to illness. Alex Len already was out with an ankle injury. … Booker got his first start of the season at point guard. … Len missed his second straight game with a sore ankle. … Marquese Chriss, back after missing six games with a sore hip, was 1 for 12 from the field for three points.
Booker was tossed after exchanging shoves with Kanter under the Phoenix basket. Kanter also drew a technical on the play.
”Obviously Book is smart enough to know that he’s trying to get in his head,” Booker’s friend and teammate Tyler Ulis said, ”but it’s hard not to react in that situation.”
Kanter said the technical he got was well worth it.
”We needed that energy,” he said. ”I know I am going to get fined, but we needed the juice so I will take that for a win anytime.”
Booker’s first technical came when he slammed the ball against the stanchion after a foul call against teammate Troy Daniels in the first half.
”I know four years ago it was a technical,” Triano said, ”but if we called technical every time (someone) throws the ball at a stanchion now, there would be a lot more.”
Knicks: Host Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
Suns: At Houston on Sunday.