Mike D'Antoni had the last laugh. His work-in-progress New York Knicks held on and beat the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden by five points.
Mighty mite Nate Robinsion, in 25 minutes off the bench, demolished the Suns on Wednesday night. Seemed everything the 5-9 one-time NBA slam-dunk champion threw up went in. He wound up with 20 chest-pounding points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds.
The same number of rebounds that 6-10 Amar'e Stoudemire had. Pitiful.
It must've been divine retribution for D'Antoni to stand smugly near the scorer's table and watch his old team unravel in the second of two games between his new team and the Suns this season (Phoenix won the first at US Airways Center).
He must've been thinking: "I told you so."
Because it was the Knicks who were fast-paced in this game.There were more blow-by points by New York than we could count in our depressed state.
The Suns did what they usually do. They stood around on defense and let a less-talented team take the game. As usual, Stoudemire was in foul trouble, finishing with 5.
Like Robinson, Amar'e did have 20 points, Before the game, he talked about being angry and fired up following his dismal performance (3 points, 1 rebound) in the Suns' embarrassing, blowout loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday night, about how he was going to take it out on the Knicks. You almost believed it after a couple of monster dunks early on.
But, ahead 14 points in the first quarter, the Suns let the lead fizzle and struggled to keep pace with the Knicks for the rest of the game. There were 11 lead changes and eight ties, before New York pulled ahead at the end.
Consummate pros Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal did their parts. Nash had 19 assists and 9 points, Shaq had 12 rebounds and 21 points. Shooting guard Jason Richardson had a phenominal game, with 9 boards and 27 ponts -- including 3 of 3 from the three-point line.
A huge difference between the two teams was bench points. Robinson and former Sun Tim Thomas led New York to 57; Thomas also had 20. The Suns could only manage 18 from its subs; Leandro Barbosa had 9.
The 17-24 Knicks were a team that an elite team should've controlled, only the now-23-17 Suns proved in the last two games they're anything but elite
As the midpoint of the regular season, GM Steve Kerr's experiment with Coach Terry Porter appears to be failing. It's been no secret that stalwarts like Nash and Grant Hill are disgruntled with Porter; his sytem is taking them off their game. We wouldn't be surprised to see many in the current cast of Suns characters gone next season.
Including Kerr and Porter.