The Phoenix Suns arrived at Madison Square Garden Friday night on a 14-game winning streak, so the basketball world knew the game wouldn’t be easy for the Knicks and yet the team didn't do itself any favors with its poor performance.
The Knicks had one of their worst shooting games of the season as they fell to the Suns 118-97. As a team, the Knicks shot just 37 percent with not one player scoring more than 17 points. That’s not a recipe for success, but even worse was the carelessness with the ball.
“The live ball turnovers really hurt you there, 17 fast break points. So those easy buckets... doesn’t take much to get [the Suns] going,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “You’re playing from a deficit so it puts a lot of pressure on you.”
Coming into Friday’s game, the Suns were the second-highest scoring team in the NBA behind only the Golden State Warriors. The Knicks made it easy for the Suns to continue their hot shooting, turning the ball over 16 times and allowed the Suns to score 25 points off them.
Despite the early turnover trouble, the Knicks hung in after the first quarter only being down 33-27. However, that all changed in the second quarter where the team scored just 17 points on 26 percent shooting.
“Defense was good and rebounding was good, but the turnovers that really hurt us,” Thibodeau explained. “[The Suns are] a terrific team, well-balanced, they play tough. Their defense is really good. Their offense is really good… Overall we didn’t play well. It’s on all of us, it’s not on one particular person. We have to do better.”
Kemba Walker, who led the team with 17 points, said that the team has to take care of the ball better, but attributed the disastrous second quarter to more than just turnovers.
“We just missed shots and they didn’t,” Walker said after the game. “We missed some good looks and they came down, moved the basketball and made theirs.”
Next for the Knicks is a trip to Atlanta to take on Trae Young and the Hawks on Saturday night. It’s a tough stretch for New York, which will be going through a gauntlet of tough opponents. After Saturday’s game against the Hawks, the Knicks will travel to Brooklyn to take on the Nets and then head back home to face the Chicago Bulls.
“You have to keep your edge. That’s the challenge of the league,” Thibodeau said. “Sometimes the schedule’s in your favor, sometimes it’s not. Every night there can be an excuse you don’t want to do that. You want to be ready to go. That’s what we have to do.”