WHAT IT MEANS: Can you say "slippage?" Showing a porous defensive presence in the paint with Ronny Turiaf (hip) sidelined again, the Knicks put on an offensive show for their fans in their annual Martin Luther King Day matinee, but didn't get crucial defensive stops when they needed them in the fourth quarter. Phoenix scored 58 points in the paint, and the loss put a damper on Amare Stoudemire's highest-scoring game as a Knick (41 points) and gave New York four losses in its past five games -- all coming in a stretch of 10 straight games against Western Conference opponents, of which three tough games still remain. Stoudemire picked up his 12th technical foul when quick-tempered referee Joey Crawford mistook Stoudemire's playful-but-hard bump of ex-teammate Channing Frye as an act of aggression. Danilo Gallinari scored 17 points in his return from a two-week absence due to a sprained knee, and Wilson Chandler scored 23 for the Knicks, who are now only four games over .500.
TURNING POINT: It came midway through the fourth quarter, with he score tied at 106. Raymond Felton, who struggled with his shot all afternoon, missed a jumper early in the shot clock, and Steve Nash hit a 3-pointer in transition. Felton then turned the ball over by throwing an entry pass to Stoudemire too high, and Vince Carter had a driving layup and a 3-pointer (off Nash's 11th assist) on the Suns' next two possessions to make it a six-point game. From there, Phoenix scored on its next three possessions to keep the cushion.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Nash was The Guy during that crucial turning point, and Stoudemire was a machine against his former team, but it was Carter's 29 points (his most since being traded to the Suns) and Grant Hill's 25 (along with Nash's near triple-double of 15 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds) that gave the Suns an offensive balance that the Knicks did not match.
MELODRAMA UPDATE: Knicks president Donnie Walsh moved the needle in the Melo Drama, saying before the game he believes he "probably" can acquire more than one No. 1 draft pick if he so chooses. The Nuggets are seeking multiple draft picks in any Carmelo Anthony trade, and Anthony moved the needle himself late Sunday night by saying he has no interest in speaking to the New Jersey Nets about playing for them.
WHAT'S NEXT: A three-games-in-four-nights road tip begins Wednesday in Houston against the Rockets, who got 16 points (8-for-12 shooting) and eight rebounds (and a plus-17) off the bench from Jordan Hill (you remember him, right?) in their last game, a road victory Saturday night in Atlanta. The Knicks then play Friday night in San Antonio, and Saturday night in Oklahoma City. Expect some high-scoring games, as the Rockets, Spurs and Thunder are ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in points per game (behind the Knicks, Nuggets and Suns).