for this game

Knicks give D'Antoni a victory over Suns

Jan 22, 2009 - 5:29 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Mike D'Antoni's first meeting with his former team did not go well. His second encounter featured some nervous moments and produced a better outcome.

D'Antoni saw his reserves combine for 57 points as the Knicks closed out the first half of the season with a 114-109 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.

David Lee led the Knicks with 25 points and 15 rebounds while starting point guard Chris Duhon added 19 points, including a huge three-pointer with just over two minutes remaining.

"We just kept playing," Duhon said. "We kept playing hard. We had to make shots and we had to make adjustments. They were killing us inside with Shaq and we just started to play our game. We got into a rhythm. Nate (Robinson) and Gallo (Danilo Gallinari) gave us a big spark."

That gave New York a seven-point lead and expanded on the work done by the second unit in the fourth quarter.

Most of the scoring was done by Nate Robinson and Tim Thomas, who combined for 15 points in the final period.

Besides scoring all 10 of his points in the fourth, Thomas also keep Shaquille O'Neal without a field goal in the quarter. O'Neal finished with 21 points.

"We just tried to lean on him," Thomas said. "Once we were able to get a stop, we just tried to run him on the other end and get him as tired as we can."

"In the second half, I think he got a little worn down and that's what it's like sometimes on a road trip," Lee said. "He got a little worn down and I was able to run up and down. I guess I got a little bit lucky tonight."

Jason Richardson led the Suns by scoring 11 of his 27 points in the fourth, including an open 3-pointer with 11 seconds left that cut New York's lead to 112-109. Al Harrington, who had been scoreless in the fourth, iced the win by knocking down a pair of free throws.

The Knicks closed out the first half of the D'Antoni era with four wins in their last six games for a 17-24 record, a four-game improvement from the halfway point of last season's 23-59 disaster.

One of D'Antoni's losses was an eight-point loss in Phoenix on December 15 when the Knicks fell into an early 17-point and were handed an eight-point loss. D'Antoni got a standing ovation from the crowd and before this one exchanged pleasantries with his former players.

"I'm human," D'Antoni said. "It's nice but it's more satisfying to get wins against a really good team. That's where we want to go."

The Knicks also secured their last two victories with strong fourth-quarter play, something that led to losses over the weekend in Washington and at home against Philadelphia.

The Knicks took the lead for good when Lee hit a 15-footer with 2:57 left in the third. They held an 84-79 advantage through three and never trailed in the fourth despite some nervous moments.

The Suns were within 103-99 when Grant Hill blew a layup but put back his own rebound with 2 1/2 minutes to play. On New York's next possession, Duhon knocked down a 3-pointer from the right side.

Phoenix also got within three when Richardson hit an open 3-pointer from the right side with 11 seconds to play. Harrington knocked down a pair at the line and when Stoudemire missed a desperation three, the Knicks had the win and the Suns had their fourth loss in five games.

"We're in a little bit of a slump right now," Phoenix coach Terry Porter said. "We just couldn't get a stop. We've had some close games we've lost and tonight we couldn't make a play. Other than Richardson's performance, it was a rough night for the Suns, who dropped their second in a row. Steve Nash had 19 assists but shot 3-of-9 while Stoudemire shot 6-of-17 from the floor."

Other than Richardson's performance, it was a rough night for the Suns, who dropped their second in a row. Steve Nash had 19 assists but shot 3-of-9 while Stoudemire shot 6-of-17 from the floor.

"I just thought we didn't play at enough of a high level," Nash said. "It looked like we faded. Maybe it is the four games in five nights but it seemed to me like we lost our energy down the stretch and we were missing shots that we're very capable of making."

"Against a team like this, you've got to defend," O'Neal said. "It's another game we let slip away. You've got to defend and you've got to be there for the rebounds. It's a little frustrating. We've let nine of 10 games slip away and we're supposed to beat teams like this every night but they came out and played a little bit harder."

Coming off Monday's embarrassing nationally televised loss in Boston, the Suns started off well. They held a 13-point lead midway through the first but fell behind by nine midway through the second before rallying for a 58-54 edge at halftime on the strength of four dunks by O'Neal.