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Recap: Booker shines, Paul closes in the Garden, Suns win 118-110

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Devin scores 33 as the Suns end the Knicks winning streak.

Phoenix Suns v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The road trip is over. The streak is over. The Suns (43-18) started off sluggish and finished strong to end the 9-game winning streak by the New York Knicks (34-28). They leave New York with a 3-2 road trip in their luggage.

Suns win 118-110 behind 33 Booker points, 21 from Bridges, 20 from Chris Paul and 11 each from Cam Payne and Cameron Johnson off the bench.

The last seven of Chris Paul’s points came in the final minute on a trio of incredible jumpers to close out the win.


Game Flow

First Half

The Suns did something they have yet to do thus far this season. With numerous injuries at the wing position, including Dario Saric, Jae Crowder, and Abdel Nader, they started Torrey Craig.

To thank Monty Williams for giving him the starting nod, he hit the first shot of the game for Phoenix, a nice little 26-foot three pointer.

The Knicks made 5 of their first 6 shots and the hottest team in the NBA had high energy as they raced out to an early 13-5 lead before fans were settled in their seats. Monty took his first timeout with 8:58 left in the first and his team down 10.

Chris Paul appeared to be frustrated with the officiating early, perhaps carrying over his disdain for the referees from the Brooklyn game. He received his 9th technical foul in the season following a loose ball foul on Craig on a shot that went over the backboard.

New York was unconscious in the first quarter as they shot 14-20 (70%) from the field and 4-8 from deep (50%). They were lead Reggie Bullock, who played for the Suns for 11 games back in the 2014-15 season.

Devin Booker scored 12 of the Suns fist 21 points as his love for playing under the Madison Square Garden lights continued. He entered the night averaging 29.6 points in five career games in NYC. Phoenix did something they don't normally do: they got to the free throw line, shooting 6-8 in Q1.

The Suns closed the quarter on an 14-6 run and trailed the Knicks by 7 after one, 36-29.

Although the Knicks currently are last in the NBA relative to pace, they came out running in the second after four consecutive misses from deep by Phoenix. Long shots equal long rebounds equal runouts for the opposition. New York started the second 8-0 run, all on layups, while Phoenix relied on the three-ball.

An 14-4 run cut the lead to six mid way through the second as Chris Paul began taking the shots and taking matters into his own hands. Devin Booker continued his scoring barrage, sticking to his deadly mid-range game to find quality looks and get Phoenix back in the game.

The first half defense was poor from Phoenix. The Knicks, a team that has the 26th best offense in the NBA, was doing what they wanted, when they wanted. The Suns looked like a team that, defensively, was caught in the middle. They would not commit fully to playing defense, which lead to easy and open shots for New York.

Cameron Payne has a solid first half offensively as he contributed 11 points from the bench. He was one of the few Suns who matched the Knicks energy. He added 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals to his stat line.

The Knicks took their lead to half time, 63-56. Julius Randle had 5 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Ayton and Paul combined for 12 points.

Second Half

The Suns found themselves getting easier buckets to begin the second half as they began looking to the interior to find their points. Conversely, the shots were a little bit harder for New York as the Suns began to lock in defensively. Torrey Craig’s physicality on Julius Randle forced him into tough shot situations.

Randle is an All-Star, however, and begin to find the range from deep. He quickly surpassed his first half production as he scored 8 quick points.

Booker continued his stellar first half by scoring 6 early points in the third, although his emotions began to rise as the calls were not going his way. The Knicks were playing Booker physical and were getting away with it. Still, you cant stop what you can’t catch, and Booker was slippery.

With 4:19 left in the third, a fast break layup by Devin Booker tied the game at 79-79. The Suns climbed all of the way back into the game.

Mikal Bridges began to find his offense in the third, driving to the hoop, getting to the line, and hitting a couple of deep super shots. Bridges had 11 in the period and put the Suns ahead following a free-throw on an up-and-under and one opportunity.

The Suns outscored the Knicks 31-24 in the third and it was all tied up entering the 4th.

Derrick Rose opened the fourth with two quick buckets and you were once again reminded that the 2011 MVP can be deadly when he gets going. During the Knicks 9-game win streak he has averaged 16.6 points off of the bench.

The game was destined for a back-and-forth finish as the teams traded baskets and little runs throughout the fourth quarter. The Suns were the first to 100 on a Cameron Johnson three with 6 minutes left. It wasn’t the prettiest night shooting from Cam, who entered the night having made 8 of his last 30 (27%) from three over the past five games. But his three three’s in the fourth quarter were made in big moments.

I said it in the preview for this game: This team goes as Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson goes.

The Knicks did not go away and came within three points on a deep ball from Julius Randle. Chris Paul would answer, however, with 8 clutch points to end the game for Phoenix. And the degree of difficulty was elite level stuff.

That 8 points was the difference in the game as Phoenix puts away the Knicks late, 118-110.


Next Up

It is time for the Phoenix Suns to return home! What awaits them? A two-game home stand against the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. Thank you scheduling gods for backloading this year’s schedule with a plethora of premier competition.

See you Wednesday.