Knicks continue Western Conference swing vs. Suns (Dec 13, 2016)
The New York Knicks seek a third consecutive win on their five-game Western Conference swing when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
The Knicks are coming off wins Friday against the Sacramento Kings and Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers, giving them four straight wins on the road.
New York (14-10) has gone 11-4 after a 3-6 start, and is now four games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2012-13 season, which is the last time the Knicks made the playoffs.
Derrick Rose returned from a back injury to hit 12 of his 16 shots on a 25-point night as the Knicks held on to beat the Lakers 118-112 on Sunday. Kristaps Porzingis helped the New York cause with a career-best-tying seven blocks.
The Knicks were able to win on a night when Carmelo Anthony was held to 13 points. Getting a season-best 19 from Brandon Jennings helped.
"We're just trusting one another and believing in what we're doing, in our schemes, defensively and offensively," Anthony explained. "Guys are feeling confident when they get the ball to make plays for themselves and others. We need that as a team. We need that confidence."
As hot as the Knicks have been on the road, the Suns have been equally cold at home. They have only one home win in more than a month, that being a victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 30.
Phoenix came close to getting another Sunday night, but came up a point short in a 120-119 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Former Knicks center Tyson Chandler had season-highs in points (14) and rebounds (21) in the loss.
Tuesday's game matches two teams that have been nearly dead-even in their all-time head-to-heads. The series had been tied 60-60 until New York swept last year's two-game series.
Several things about the Knicks, including the acquisition of Rose, have changed since they were last seen in Phoenix. No doubt, Suns fans will applaud one of the moves when they get a chance.
The Knicks have responded well to the coaching of Jeff Hornacek, who was fired as Suns head coach in February after going 101-112 in two-plus seasons.
Hornacek remains best remembered in Phoenix for his playing days after he was a second-round pick in 1986. Maybe his biggest claim to fame was being used as trade bait that allowed the Suns to acquire Charles Barkley in 1992.
Hornacek has been replaced in Phoenix by Earl Watson, who is off to a rough start (7-17) in his first season as the fulltime coach after having been promoted on an interim basis for the final two months last season.
Coming close, like they did Sunday night in the overtime loss to New Orleans, isn't good enough for some Suns players.
"I'm a competitor. I want to win," assured Chandler, who averaged a double-double (10.2 points, 10.1 rebounds) over three seasons with the Knicks. "These losses aren't easy on me."