Suns visit Knicks looking for third straight win after trading Ariza
NEW YORK — At some point, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers will join the Phoenix Suns after being acquired from the Washington Wizards for Trevor Ariza in what originally was a three-team deal involving the Memphis Grizzlies.
As of Sunday, the trade had not been announced but if it gets completed by Monday night, Oubre and Rivers can pull off the feat of playing games in New York for two visiting teams.
Whether Oubre and Rivers are available or not the Suns will attempt to get their first three-game winning streak in over a year and a half when they start a five-game road trip by facing the New York Knicks.
In a bizarre scene after the Wizards took a 120-113 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, Oubre and Rivers heard about reports saying they were getting traded. Originally, Oubre was going to join Memphis while Rivers was headed to Phoenix.
Phoenix heads into their longest trip of the season seeking a third straight win for the first time since March 2-5, 2017 when it recorded home wins over Charlotte, Boston, and Oklahoma City.
The Suns start the trip after two strong defensive showings in home wins over Dallas on Thursday and Minnesota Saturday. Phoenix held Dallas to 39.7 percent from the floor Thursday in a 99-89 win and Saturday it limited Minnesota to 41 second-half points in a 107-98 loss.
Phoenix’s last two games follow a 10-game losing streak and Saturday marked the fourth time it allowed less than 100 points. It also capped an eventful week where the Suns failed to finish a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers for Ariza, saw the City Council postpone a vote on arena renovations and then the confusion of the trade for Rivers and Oubre.
At least the Suns were able to end the week by getting their best player back from a hamstring injury. Booker returned from missing six games and totaled 28 points and seven rebounds.
Booker also had some help as T.J. Warren scored 21 for his third straight game with at least 20 points while rookie DeAndre Ayton posted his 17th double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
“Everyone was having fun, playing with high energy,” Booker said. “The crowd’s involved, the players were involved. Playing good basketball. Nothing more than that I can ask for. Going out there, playing the right way. Playing together.”
Now the Suns will attempt to do the things Booker described in their bid to halt a five-game road losing streak and get their third road win overall.
“It just shows us how good we really are, how good we can be when we do everything we need to do,” Phoenix forward Josh Jackson said. “We know we’re talented and that we play really good at times but the thing we got to figure out is to be more consistent.”
New York is returning to complete the second night of a back-to-back after taking a 110-99 loss at Indiana on Sunday. The Knicks are 2-8 in their last 10 games since winning three straight over Boston, New Orleans and Memphis Nov. 21-25.
On Sunday, the Knicks used a zone defense that helped them rally and get an overtime win Friday in Charlotte. Instead, they were outscored 29-18 over the final nine minutes and were held under 100 points for the fifth time this season.
“Something that is working for us,” New York coach David Fizdale said. “It’s familiar to this group because half of them was playing a lot of zone a year ago. I caved in. Let’s try something a little more in their comfort zone.”
Enes Kanter led the Knicks with 20 points while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19. Kevin Knox added 15 in his third straight start and will likely be in the starting lineup for his first home game since getting 26 in a blowout loss to Charlotte on Dec. 9.
The Knicks swept both meetings last season by getting a 107-85 win at Phoenix on Jan. 26 and a 120-107 home win on Nov. 3, 2017.