Suns hope to get well at home vs. Knicks
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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns return home Friday to face the road-weary New York Knicks during a stretch for both teams that only a travel agent could love.
The Suns (17-31) lost three of four games on a recent trip that concluded with a blowout loss at Indiana on Wednesday, and have lost five of six overall as they prepare to host the Knicks in the second and final meeting this season.
The Knicks (21-28) are 2-4 in the first six games of their season-long seven game trip that concludes in Phoenix, and they have lost the last three after falling 130-118 to Denver on Thursday
Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis had 37 points in New York's 120-107 victory over the Suns on Nov. 3, and appears to be back at full strength after scoring 21 points against the Nuggets.
Porzingis, recently named to his first All-Star team, took some pointed criticism from former Knicks great Walt Frazier for missing the Knicks' 123-112 loss at Golden State on Tuesday because of what the team called "knee irritation."
"He's on the threshold of greatness, but you got to go against the Warriors, man," Knicks TV analyst Frazier said on the Warriors' pregame radio show Tuesday.
"We've played against some elite teams this year and he hasn't been ready to play. You can't be injured against those type of teams ... the team needs him. You're an All-Star, you've just been voted to the All-Star team so go out there and show the Warriors why."
Porzingis, who leads the Knicks with a 23.2 scoring average, has missed seven games this season, including contests at Houston and Indiana in a 10-day span in late November-early December and a home game against Oklahoma City in mid-December. He leads the league with an average of 2.34 blocked shots per game.
After reaching .500 for the last time with a victory at New Orleans on Dec. 30, the Knicks have lost nine of their last 12. They will face Brooklyn at home Tuesday before playing five of next seven on the road.
The Knicks are 6-19 on the road, and only Atlanta (four) and Memphis (five) have fewer road victories. The Suns are 8-16 at home, tied for the lowest home winning percentage in the league with Sacramento (7-14).
While Porzingis returned Thursday, guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was given the night off Thursday as a precautionary move. Hardaway, who is averaging 19.3 points in the last six games, missed the previous 5 1/2 weeks with a knee injury.
Former Sun Michael Beasley recorded his sixth 20-point game in January when he had 21 against the Nuggets. He is averaging 17.3 points this month.
The game should provide some offense. Suns guard Devin Booker is averaging 24.8 points a game and the Suns are giving up a league-high 112.2 points per.
The Pacers shot 56.3 percent from the field in their 116-101 victory over the Suns on Wednesday, building a 38-point cushion in the third quarter despite playing without starting point guard Darren Collison. The Pacers had 11 steals and scored 36 fast-break points.
"This was an embarrassing game," Booker said. "I'm not sure how many transition points they had, I'm sure it was a lot. A lot more than we had."
The Suns are expected to have power forward Marquese Chriss back in the lineup. He has missed the last six games because of a hip injury suffered in a 114-100 victory over Oklahoma City on Jan. 7.
Dragan Bender, who has replaced Chriss in the lineup, has 16 points in 143 minutes of the last five games, going 6-for-21 from the field.
"They were a physical team, and we didn't match their physicality," Suns interim coach Jay Triano told reporters in Indiana, a situation that could be rectified if Chriss returns.
The Suns can close in on the NBA record for consecutive games with a 3-point field goal Friday. They made nine 3-pointers at Indiana and have made at least one in 1,106 consecutive games, two short of Dallas' NBA record.
Updated January 26, 2018