PHOENIX — The ugliest loss of the season seemed a distinct possibility for the Phoenix Suns — until the second half.
Eric Bledsoe fell a rebound shy of a triple-double and the Suns pulled away to beat the New York Knicks 102-89 on March 15. Bledsoe finished with 21 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.
“It would have been great if I would have got it,” Bledsoe said, “but at the end of the day we won. We’ve still got a fighting chance (at the playoffs).”
Marcus Morris added 20 points for the Suns, who were without starters Brandon Knight and Alex Len because of sprained ankles. Brandan Wright, starting in place of Len, scored a season-high 18 and matched his season best with 11 rebounds.
The Knicks, blown out March 14 at Golden State, led by 11 in the first half and were up 48-47 at the break.
“We were low on energy coming out,” said the Suns’ Archie Goodwin, who had career highs of five assists and three steals.
“That’s what happens when you underestimate your opponent, which I feel like we kind of did in the first quarter or so. Towards the end of the second quarter we started really playing hard and started respecting them. I think that’s why we ultimately won.”
Andre Bargnani and Alexey Shved scored 18 points apiece for New York. “Overall, I didn’t think we played a bad game,” Bargnani said. “We could have played a little better on defense, but we missed shots, inside and outside.”
Knicks coach Derek Fisher said too many things developed against his team.
“You know, Langston (Galloway) in foul trouble, Lou (Amundson) foul trouble,” he said. “We lost Tim (Hardaway Jr.) in two minutes. We lost Cle (Early) to a rolled ankle. We just couldn’t keep the fight going.”
Phoenix stayed three games behind Oklahoma City for the No. 8 playoff spot in the West and is two behind No. 9 New Orleans. The Knicks, with the NBA’s worst record (13-53), fell to 4-31 on the road.
The Suns’ lone first-half lead was 2-0. Phoenix took the lead with the first basket of the second half. Galloway’s 3-pointer put New York back ahead 51-50 but the Knicks never led again.
The Suns scored the next nine points to go up 59-51 on Bledsoe’s fast-break layup with 7:39 left in the third quarter.
The Knicks stayed close for a while. Bargnani’s two free throws with 9:38 to play cut it to 79-75 with 9:39 to play.
Phoenix stretched it from there. Bledsoe scored twice and P.J. Tucker sank a 3-pointer in a 13-3 run that put the Suns up 96-80 when Marcus Morris grabbed his own miss and scored with 4:45 left.
“We had 10 turnovers in the first half, which allowed them 16 turnover points, and that’s a killer,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. “They took care of the ball in the second half and we ended up with 14 assists and three turnovers.”
The Knicks took their biggest lead of the first half with a 13-4 run that put them up 29-18 late in the first quarter.
New York led 46-38 with 3:51 left in the half but Phoenix scored the next seven points to cut the lead to 46-45 on Markieff Morris’ left-handed hook shot. Lance Thomas’ one-handed dunk on a rebound put New York up 48-45, then Bledsoe ended the half with a driving dunk to make it 48-47 Knicks at the break.
(BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer)Source: The National Herald