Knicks beat by Suns in testy affair as playoff race tightens

PHOENIX — This was the primary time all pandemic season the Knicks performed in entrance of an actual, reside, half-packed, hostile crowd.

They didn’t deal with it nicely. They blew a seven-point lead late in the third quarter, and Taj Gibson later misplaced his composure as the powerhouse Suns routed the Knicks, 128-105. earlier than a boisterous crowd of 8,063 — the NBA season’s largest crowd — at Talking Stick Arena.

All the frustration of the Knicks’ collapse boiled over halfway via the fourth quarter when Gibson went after Chris Paul whereas the Suns guard was bringing the ball up-court. Gibson body-checked Paul to the ground prefer it was hockey with seven minutes left.

Gibson was known as for a flagrant foul, and Paul jawed with Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau over the infraction.

The downtown Phoenix area — which is allowed to confess followers at 50-percent capability — exploded with as a lot noise as this NBA season has most likely heard.

Tempers have been nonetheless sizzling in the Valley of the Sun later in the fourth, when Julius Randle and Jae Crowder had phrases after Randle knocked Crowder down battling for a unfastened ball. Randle picked up a technical foul.

Julius Randle argues with the ref after getting a technical in the Knicks' 128-105 blowout loss to the Suns.
Julius Randle argues with the ref after getting a technical in the Knicks’ 128-105 blowout loss to the Suns.

RJ Barrett mentioned earlier than the competition, “We undoubtedly owe them,’’ referring to the Knicks’ late loss to the Suns on the Garden on April 26.

But Barrett, regardless of scoring 23 factors, figured into the collapse. He was a part of the mess when the Suns closed the third quarter with 9 unanswered factors, together with 4 factors in the ultimate 1.8 seconds of the quarter.

Off a Derrick Rose 3-pointer, the Knicks led by seven factors with one minute left in the third earlier than the collapse.

After a basket by Frank Kaminsky and a 3-pointer by Cameron Payne pulled the Suns inside two, Randle shot an airball. Phoenix’s Devin Booker raced downcourt and blew the layup, however Torrey Craig tipped it in to tie the rating.

Then got here the largest blunder of the sport. Barrett lackadaisically seemed to inbound and had the ball stolen by Payne, who laid it in to place the Suns up 90-88 after three. It despatched the group right into a frenzy.

Crowder bought sizzling in the fourth quarter and completed with 18 factors. His second trey of the quarter, with 8:20 left, gave the Suns a 104-93 lead. That made it a 23-5 run from the time the Knicks have been up by seven late in the third.

After two losses, the Knicks are 2-2 on their street journey, which can finish in Los Angeles with video games towards the Clippers and Lakers.

The Knicks bought off to a sluggish begin, trailing 21-8, with Suns middle Deandre Ayton dominating inside. But the Knicks roared again on a 16-2 run late in the primary quarter. They went up by as many as 11 factors and took a 63-56 lead at halftime behind terrific ball motion, robust shotmaking by Randle and one other spirited, bouncy efficiency by Derrick Rose.

They additionally held Booker, who usually torches them, to simply eight factors in the primary half, as he went 1-for-6 from the sector. Booker completed with simply 16.

Randle pounded in 16 factors in the primary half and wound up with 24 factors and 11 rebounds.

Rose was 6-for-8 from the sector for 14 factors and 5 assists in 18 minutes of the primary half, however was quiet after that. He completed with 17 factors.

“You bought to maintain these guys off the glass — Randle is a handful and Rose is a kind of guys you don’t notice how good he’s and what impact he has on successful earlier than it’s too late,’’ Suns coach Monty Williams mentioned earlier than the sport. “We need to be certain he’s a spotlight.’’

The Knicks functioned nicely with guard Frank Ntilikina again in the rotation to make up for the lack of Alec Burks (contused knee) and Immanuel Quickley (sprained ankle).

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