Suns Top Knicks for Ninth Straight Win
Phoenix 85, New York 81
PHOENIX, Dec. 9 (Ticker) -- The Phoenix Suns didn't play like themselves but still managed to extend the longest winning streak in the NBA this season.
Steve Nash collected 19 points and nine assists while Raja Bell added 17 points as the Suns toughed out an 85-81 triumph over the New York Knicks.
"There are a lot of factors for the streak," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Steve and Shawn (Marion) are playing at a very high level. Boris (Diaw) adding something we didn't know we were going to have this year. The whole group is playing defense, and when you have a combination of everything, we are pretty good."
The high-octane offense of the Suns came in averaging a league-leading 105.8 points, but stingy defense and 42 percent (35-of-84) shooting led to their lowest output of the campaign.
"It is good to know we can win in a variety of ways," Bell said. "As much as we wanted to push the tempo, they controlled the tempo. At the end of the game, we paid attention to detail on the defensive end of the court. We would like to win and score 120 points every night, but it is good to know when we don't, we can lock up our opponents."
"We didn't play well, we didn't shoot well, we didn't get to the foul line, but we won," D'Antoni said. "We won because guys really D it up the last three or four minutes. They are a team that is going to slow it down and pound it. When you don't hit shots, we compound the problem. But at the end of the day, it is a good win for us."
Phoenix also did not attempt a free throw until Diaw went to the line with 7:58 left. But it was Knicks coach Larry Brown who believed his team was not getting the calls.
"For as much as we went inside tonight, I would have liked to see us get to the free-throw line tonight," said Brown, whose team was 10-of-15 from the stripe. "If you don't win games, you don't get respect, but hey, they made plays. We gave up a lead when the bench came in and turned the ball over too much."
Phoenix trailed, 40-28, in the second quarter, but went on an 18-4 run to close the first half. Reserve Eddie House, who scored 15 points, scored five points in the surge before Nash drilled a 3-pointer to give the Suns a 46-44 lead at the break.
"I'm knocking them down, and that is something I want to do on the road because I am only hitting at home," House said. "We started pushing the ball and got some good looks. We finally got into our flow and dug down deep defensively."
Bell gave Phoenix a seemingly comfortable 80-72 lead with a 3-pointer with 6:22 left. However, that was the last basket for the Suns.
"Not scoring the last six minutes and winning means is about our defense," House said. "Every night, we are not going to put up 105. The nights we don't do that, we have to make sure we hold our opponent even lower then what we usually do. At the end of the night, it is about defense."
Stephon Marbury, who scored 10 of his 28 points in the final period, helped the Knicks remain close in final minutes. However, New York committed a season-high 24 turnovers which led to its fourth loss in five games.
"Whenever you are playing a free-motion offense, they can come down and shoot a three at any given moment," Marbury said. "You can shoot yourself out of the game and you can shoot yourself in the game. Tonight, they shot themselves in the game."