Rapid Reaction: Knicks 99, Suns 97


J.R. Smith was the hero for the second time this season. On Dec. 5, he beat the Bobcats with a game-winning fallaway in the left baseline corner, and on Wednesday night he nailed one in about the same spot with time expiring to defeat the Suns, 99-97.

And both times, Carmelo Anthony wasn't on the court. Melo missed Wednesday's game with a hyperextended knee, and Raymond Felton sat out with a broken finger.

KNICKS' GAME BALL GOES TO ... Jason Kidd, who finished with a season-high 23 points to go along with eight assists and six rebounds in only 31 minutes. It was as simple as this: When Kidd was on the court, the Knicks played much better.

Kidd made his impact on the Knicks' first five plays of the second half, as they built their biggest lead of the game, 57-44. He had a 3-pointer, layup, another 3 and then assists to Tyson Chandler and James White.

Then, when Kidd was on the bench in the second part of the third quarter, the Suns went on a 22-8 run to end the period.

WHERE'S THE PERIMETER D? The Knicks' defensive staple to start the season was their perimeter rotations. But it's been disappearing as of late. They allowed Jared Dudley to go off for a career-high 36 points on 11-for-17 shooting, including 5-for-8 from beyond the arc.

THE BENCH BOYS: In the first half, Smith had 13 points. In the second quarter alone, Chris Copeland had 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting (2-for-2 from beyond the arc), helping the Knicks go on a 14-4 run. When it was over, while Copeland had 14 points, Smith had 27 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals.

3-PRECISE: After going through the first month-and-a-half of the season shooting 41.2 percent from downtown -- the second-best mark in the NBA -- the Knicks sunk to 32.4 percent in the past six games. But they picked it up in Phoenix, going 9-for-22 (40.9 percent), thanks to Kidd's 5-for-8 performance.

RUN, COACH, RUN!: When the Knicks keep their turnovers at 12 or below, the coaches have to run in the following practice. They only committed 11 turnovers on Wednesday.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks travel to Sacramento on Friday night to take on the 9-18 Kings at 10 p.m. ET. This could be the last game Amar'e Stoudemire misses. Mike Woodson said before the Suns game the power forward should return on New Year's Day against the Trail Blazers, barring any setbacks.

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