December 2, 2009 | 7:35am
A red-hot Suns team that's rolled over most every team in its path played one of the NBA's biggest go-nowhere squads . . . and lost.
At 14-3 heading into Tuesday night's game against the New York Knicks, it sure seemed like a gimme. But a sloppy first quarter full of turnovers and a dreadful third quarter in which New York outscored the Suns by 11 points let the 3-14 Knicks zap the Phoenix Suns 126-99.
Is that a typo? Nope, the Suns flat-out got hammered by the New York team.
Notably, the Knicks' win was the first against Phoenix under former Suns Coach Mike D'Antoni. Who knows? Maybe D'Antoni got his team to gear up for this game more so than the other stinkers they've played this season.
The Suns appeared pretty ragged in the first quarter and overmatched in the third quarter. Given those two periods, it's no wonder the Suns lost by nearly 30 points. Steve Nash had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Jason Richardson, Amar'e Stoudmire, and (off the bench) Alando Tucker each had 14.
The problem? The Knicks, who'd lost nine of the previous 11 meetings between the two teams, shot 50 percent from the field. Not to mention the Knicks schooled the Suns on the boards, pulling down 50 rebounds to the Suns' 40.
All in all, the Knicks didn't look like a team that had won just three games this year. And the Suns sure as hell didn't look like a team with the best record in the NBA. In their defense, they've been on the road a lot already this year, and it finally caught up with them. Is losing by 27 to the Knicks reason for Suns fans to panic? Hardly. Chalk it up to one bad night in the Big Apple.
Tonight, the Suns go from the dregs of the NBA to one of the league's true powerhouses, LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are 12-5, and a legit contender for the Eastern Conference crown. To no one's surprise, James is simply on fire this year, averaging just more than 29 points and nearly seven rebounds a game. Meanwhile, in limited action, former Sun Shaquille O'Neal is averaging slightly more than 11 points and nearly seven rebounds a game.
Time: 5 p.m. from Cleveland. TV: My45. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. Info: www.nba.com/suns