Knicks aim to stop scorching Suns (Nov 03, 2017)

November 2, 2017

NEW YORK -- Just when the New York Knicks thought their defense was in order, the Houston Rockets and James Harden rained 3-pointers all over Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Now the Knicks play host to the suddenly scorching Phoenix Suns on Friday night.

The Suns (4-4) are 4-1 since Jay Triano replaced Earl Watson on Oct. 23. They swept a back-to-back in Brooklyn and Washington by scoring 122 points in both contests and getting big nights from TJ Warren.

Warren scored 20 points Tuesday in Brooklyn and followed it up with a career-high 40 points Wednesday when the Suns rallied from a 22-point deficit.

Phoenix is averaging 113 points under Triano, which might be bad news for the Knicks, whose lethargy was questioned by coach Jeff Hornacek in a 119-97 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday night. The defeat snapped New York's three-game winning streak.

"It seemed like they were a little tired," Hornacek said after Wednesday's game. "We didn't have the same energy that we had in some of the other games. Maybe it was one of those nights."

It was one of those nights for Kristaps Porzingis, who followed up a career-high 38-point showing Monday against Denver by finishing with 19 points against Houston. Porzingis did not practice Thursday due to an illness, and he is questionable for Friday.

With Warren emerging into Phoenix's No. 2 scoring option -- and sometimes No. 1 -- to Devin Booker, the Knicks will have to account for more than one offensive threat on Friday. Warren is averaging nearly 25 points over his past four games.

"It's just me being aggressive, taking the shots I know I can take," Warren said. "(Wednesday) happened to be one of those nights where everything was just falling. My teammates did a nice job of finding me in the right spots, and me just cutting for layups was me being myself, being TJ."

Booker, meanwhile, is averaging nearly 30 points in his past three and 22.1 points for the season.

Like the Suns, the Knicks also seem to be developing a potent 1-2 punch.

While Porzingis is turning into one of the premier post options in the league, Tim Hardaway Jr. took a positive step in the past few games, including scoring a team-high 23 points against Rockets. Two games earlier, he had a 34-point outburst in a 19-point win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If Porzingis plays, he will look to rebound -- both figuratively and literally -- against a team lacking a significant post presence aside from former Knick Tyson Chandler.

Porzingis produced his second-worst scoring output of the season as the Rockets switched on his pick-and-rolls and stymied him.

"We were missing something offensively," he said after the game. "We just need to make shots."

Phoenix won both meetings last season by two points. The Knicks swept the season series two years ago with double-digit victories.