Nash, Suns beat Knicks to end 5-game skid

NEW YORK (AP) — Steve Nash had 26 points and 11 assists, Shannon Brown hit a crucial 3-pointer that was as ugly as this game, and the Phoenix Suns snapped a five-game losing streak with a 91-88 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

Brown and Grant Hill each scored 14 points for the Suns, who bounced back from an embarrassing 118-97 loss to a Chicago team without Derrick Rose a night earlier.

They got help with a lucky bounce on Brown’s 3-pointer from the corner that nearly hit the top of the backboard before falling in that gave them a five-point lead with 35 seconds left, and Nash closed it out with six free throws in the last 16 seconds.

Former Suns forward Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points for the Knicks, who have lost four straight.

Iman Shumpert added 20 points and Landry Fields had 17, but Carmelo Anthony shot just 5 of 22 while finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Neither team led by more than six in the first three quarters. Hill hit jumpers for the Suns’ last three baskets of the third quarter, giving them a 64-61 edge. Anthony was just 2 of 13 through three but New York stayed in it behind Fields, who played aggressively and scored 10 in the period.

The Knicks then managed just two field goals in the first six minutes of the fourth, and Phoenix finally got some room when a 10-4 run, ending with consecutive baskets by Brown, made it 78-71.

Shumpert’s 3-pointer cut it to 82-80 before Brown answered with his 3 from the corner that had to be reviewed. Shumpert made another 3, but Nash kept hitting from the line, and it ended when Shumpert’s rushed 3 from near midcourt was nowhere near the basket.

Tyson Chandler grabbed 17 rebounds for the Knicks on a night there were plenty of missed shots as both teams showed why they have been struggling so much early in the season.

The surprising culprits have been the team’s offenses, with both struggling just to reach 90 points during their skids. That’s particularly hard to imagine in Phoenix, where the Suns remained potent long after Mike D’Antoni brought his high-powered system to New York, and comes just a year after the teams combined for 250 points here in the Suns’ 129-121 victory.

“That’s pretty ironic you know, because obviously most of the things we do is what Mike did when he was there,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “There’s a few things that we’ve changed, but it’s kind of a mystery to me. I can’t put my finger on the fact that we’re struggling to get to 100 every game. I thought that would be one of the areas where we’d have the least worries and it’s become just the opposite.”

Gentry shook up his rotation in an effort to balance things after noticing the Suns were 27th in the NBA in second-quarter scoring. Rookie Markieff Morris made his first start at forward and Ronnie Price got the nod at shooting guard.

Turns out he didn’t the extra scoring, because the Knicks remained in a seemingly season-long shooting slump.

It was the sixth straight game the Knicks failed to reach 100 points, their second-longest streak under D’Antoni, according to STATS, LLC. They went seven games in a row early in the 2009-10 season, when they had little talent while clearing cap space for free agency.

Now they have All-Star talent in Stoudemire and Anthony, but the offense just isn’t running smoothly without a veteran point guard. They are hoping that when Baron Davis finally is ready from a herniated disc in his back sometime around the end of the month that he can change that.

The Knicks wrap up their string of four homes in six nights with a back-to-back against Milwaukee and Denver on Friday and Saturday.

Notes: D’Antoni said C Jerome Jordan and G Jeremy Lin, assigned Tuesday to Erie of the NBA Development League, would probably return near the end of the month when Davis is back and the team will want to play 5-on-5 in practice. … The Knicks played without reserve guard Bill Walker, who has a sore right knee.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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