Dragic had 18 of his 32 points in the first quarter and the
Phoenix Suns combined 14 3-pointers and with fast-break points to
win their sixth straight game, a 112-88 rout of the New York Knicks
Dragic was 7-for-8 from the field in the first quarter and finished
11-for-17 despite suffering a five-stitch cut over his left eye
courtesy of an elbow from New York center Tyson Chandler. Dragic now
has nine 30-point games this season and has scored 18 or more in 12
of the past 13 games.
"I don't know what's going on. It's always the left eye," Dragic
said of his latest set of stitches. "That's the fifth time now, the
second time this season. So now every time I'm taking a photo for a
passport, I'm taking it from (the right) side."
The Knicks left Dragic wide open, almost daring him to shoot. He was
happy to oblige.
"They went under the screen every time. It's not an easy shot but
it's not contested," Dragic said. "Every time they do that, I'm
going to have a good game. They didn't play good defense and we
could get everything we want. You just swing the ball two, three
times and find an open guy."
Guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Markieff Morris added 16 points each
for the Suns, who used their best winning streak of the year to move
a season-high 15 games over .500 (44-29) and past the Memphis
Grizzlies into seventh-place by a half-game in the tightly-packed
Western Conference playoff race.
Phoenix now leads the idle, ninth-place Dallas Mavericks by one full
game. But with nine games left, seeding isn't the team's biggest
"To go from one of the worst teams in the league last year to having
a chance to make the playoffs -- that's the hunger right there,"
Phoenix forward P.J. Tucker said. "We're just playing. We're not
looking at who is winning and losing. If we take care of business,
we'll be in the playoffs."
Forward Carmelo Anthony had 21 points and forward Amar'e Stoudemire
had 19 for the Knicks, who lost for the third time in the past four
games and dropped two full games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the
final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
J.R. Smith had 10 of New York's first 19 points, but had only five
the rest of the way.
"We can't make any excuses," said Stoudemire, who played in Phoenix
for only the second time since leaving as a free agent in the summer
of 2010. "We knew what they were going to do. We talked about the
pace, we talked about match-ups, we talked about 3-pointers ... it
shouldn't have caught us by surprise.
Anthony lost 13 straight games at US Airways Center, dating back to
his rookie season with the Denver Nuggets in 2004.
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"Overall as a unit, we didn't fight," Anthony said. "We didn't have
it, and they had it in all aspects of the game. This game and the
Lakers game (a 127-96 loss Tuesday) we were down 20-something points
before you even know it."
Dragic keyed a 13-2 Phoenix run in the first quarter that turned a
22-19 deficit into a 32-24 lead. The Phoenix bench outscored the
Knicks 9-0 in the period, all on 3-pointers from guard Gerald Green
(two) and Markieff Morris (one) on the way to a 39-point night.
The Knicks shaved a 34-26 first-quarter deficit to 38-34 on Ian
Shumpert's 17-footer with 8:55 left. But the Suns answered with a
17-5 run, with Markieff (nine) and forward Marcus Morris (four)
scoring 13 of the points. Marcus Morris's tip-in made it 53-37
Phoenix with 4:01 left.
The Suns ended the half with nine straight points with a slam dunk
by center Miles Plumlee off a Marcus Morris feed giving Phoenix a
62-40 bulge at intermission.
The Suns led by as many as 32 points in the third quarter, their
largest lead in any game this season. The Knicks cut the Phoenix
lead down to 17 at 92-75 on two free throws by Stoudemire with 8:27
left. But the Suns answered with eight straight points, with Dragic
following a Bledsoe 3-pointer with a 3-point play to ice the game.
NOTES: Suns G Eric Bledsoe came into Friday with four straight games
scoring 20-plus points (averaging 21.8 points over the run). He
finished with 16 points ... The Suns are 20-10 against the Eastern
Conference and if the season had ended Friday, they would have been
the No. 3 seed in the East instead of fighting for their postseason
lives in the West. ... Knicks coach Mike Woodson on trying to make a
playoff run as a New York team: "Every game is tough us, it doesn't
matter who we play. It just seems like everyone gets up for our
game." ... The Suns are a perfect 19-0 when shooting 50 percent or
better this season, something they did three times during the
five-game winning streak they took into Friday. Chicago and
Minnesota are the only other teams perfect when shooting 50 percent
or better. ... Tim Boven of Peoria, Ariz., hit a half-court shot
during a timeout to win $77,777 in a contest sponsored by a local
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