USA TODAY Sports
The Knicks came in off a back-to-back, the Suns were two days rested. The Knicks were banged up and short-handed, the Suns fully equipped. Yet, in the end, it was the Knicks role players that out shined the Suns role players in an electric game.
Great offense always seems to beat great defense -- and a picture speaks a thousand words.
Minus Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Raymond Felton the Knicks executed down the stretch in a come from behind victory. Without their normal offensive leaders on the court the Knicks turned to J.R. Smith who turned over his right shoulder for the game winning jumper.
"Obviously it was a real tough loss," said Head Coach Alvin Gentry after the game. "As I said to you guys, when we do that, put ourselves in harm's way, that way, everything has to go perfect and when it doesn't - the thing that happened, where you get a guy making a real difficult shot to win the game and it going in."
The Suns once again dug themselves a double digit deficit (22nd time in 29 games) as the Knicks hit a barrage of threes in the second quarter running up the half-time score to 10-points.
To the Suns credit, they stormed back to take the lead late, but costly turnovers ended up being the teams Achilles' Heel over the course of the final five minutes. During that stretch Sebastian Telfair, Jermaine O'Neal, and Michael Beasley made insatiable turnovers that lead directly to seven of the final nine Knicks points.
"Back-to-back turnovers, can't happen. Can't happen. Those are the types of things that cost you games in a close game like this. they can't happen. They shoot 45% and if you go back and look they get five lay-ups off of our turnovers. There is no excuse, can't turn the ball over when you are up, have possession of it, and it is a tight game, and every possession counts."
Those plays down the stretch were normally decisions that would be made by Goran Dragic, but his injury at the end of the first half kept him in the locker room for the entire second half. "J.R. (Smith) -- he's not that kind of player. He plays hard and competes like crazy. It was an accident, it's one of those kinds of things that happen.""
For the final 24 minutes of the game the ball was in Telfair's hands to make plays for himself and others. To his credit he did an adequate job in those minutes with nine points, three assists, and two steals. Bassy played as well if not better defensively as Dragic would have in the second half in that spot sparking the third quarter run, but it was his two turnovers in the final two minutes that were the teams' demise.
"That is a good question. It is the million dollar question right now," said Dudley after the loss about not making plays down the stretch. "Every game is lost on one or two plays, how you break through is just will and toughness."
One play here, two plays there, and the Suns win these games -- but right now they just do not have the pieces or the timing as a unit to make them as their 6-11 record in games decided by 10 points or less has abundantly stated that so far this season.