The Phoenix Suns showed signs of being a decent basketball team again when they defeated the Portland Trail Blazers at home on Friday night. But one game proves nothing if it's not backed up the next time the team takes the floor. That's why the road win over this New York Knicks was such an important sign for the Suns as they withstood a 41-point performance from Amare Stoudemire to kick off a crucial five-game road swing through the Eastern Conference.
The Suns were led by Vince Carter who had his best game with his new team. Carter put up a season-high 29 points and more importantly grabbed 12 rebounds as he surpassed the 20,000-point mark on his career. Carter was joined in the scoring column in this fast-paced game by Grant Hill (25 points) and Channing Frye (18 points).
Instead of trying to match Mike D'Antoni's small lineups which contributed to the 25-point embarrassing beating the Knicks inflicted on the Suns in Phoenix a few weeks ago, Alvin Gentry stayed with his normal rotation and got solid play from his centers, Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat. Neither were able to slow Stoudemire's scoring but they held him to just six rebounds and contributed to a plus-10 Suns advantage in points in the paint and plus-seven in second chance points.
In the battle of outside shooting between these two teams who love to shoot from outside, the Suns came up roses. The Knicks were 11-31 (35.5%) from three while the Suns were 11-21 (52.4%) from long range. The Suns bench was solid with another strong, energetic performance from Hakim Warrick (six rebounds and nine points in 17 minutes). The Phoenix bench outscored the Knicks' reserves 30-22.
The Suns continue their trip through the Eastern Conference with their next game in Cleveland on Wednesday.