Knicks fall to Suns, 112-88

Knicks' Amare Stoudemire has his shot blocked by Knicks' Amare Stoudemire has his shot blocked by Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, left, as Channing Frye defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 28, 2014, in Phoenix. Photo Credit: AP / Matt York

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PHOENIX -- Two teams fighting for a playoff spot met Friday night, but only one of them played as if they needed and wanted the game, and it wasn't the Knicks.

The Suns built a 32-point lead and routed the Knicks, 112-88, at U.S. Airways Center. It was the Knicks' third loss in four games and second lopsided defeat on this five-game trip. They lost to the Lakers by 31 Tuesday night.

The Knicks (30-43) had a chance to get within one game of the Hawks for the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot. But they looked slow defensively, didn't hustle the way Phoenix did and fell two games behind Atlanta with nine to play.

"We weren't ready for them, we weren't prepared for them and they ran us out of the gym," Carmelo Anthony said. "We didn't fight. We didn't have it and they had it in all aspects of the game."

The Knicks can't afford to not have it again Sunday night when they play another explosive team, the Golden State Warriors, before closing out this trip Monday night in Utah.

Atlanta is at Washington Saturday night and hosts the 76ers -- losers of 26 straight games -- Monday night.

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Anthony led the Knicks with 21 points and Amar'e Stoudemire added 19 in his second game back in Phoenix since signing with the Knicks. J.R. Smith scored 15.

Point guard Goran Dragic was brilliant for the Suns, who won for the sixth straight game. Dragic shot 11-for-18 overall and 5- for-9 from three-point range and scored 32 points. Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris each had 16.

The Suns (44-29) moved into seventh place in the West, a half-game ahead of Memphis and a game ahead of Dallas.

Phoenix took control of the game in the first half and led for the final 39:18. The Suns enjoyed their biggest cushion of the season -- 82-50 with 6:40 left in the third quarter -- after Eric Bledsoe threw a lob in transition to Miles Plumlee, who threw it down with his back to the basket.

The Knicks drew within 92-75 with 8:28 left, but the Suns scored 12 straight points and went ahead 104-75 on Plumlee's follow slam.

"I just thought they were more aggressive than us," Mike Woodson said. "We're playing for something, and it's disappointing. We can't continue to give games away."

The Knicks are going to have to play with the kind of urgency and purpose Phoenix did if they're going to have any shot at squeaking into the playoffs. Eight of the Knicks' last nine opponents are like the Suns -- either fighting for a playoff spot or for playoff position.

From the beginning, Dragic drove around Raymond Felton, getting to the basket whenever he wanted and finding open spots on the perimeter. He shot 7-for-8, including 3-for-3 on three-pointers, and scored 18 points in the first quarter.

The Suns reeled off an 18-3 surge in the last seven minutes of the first half to take a 62-40 lead. The Knicks didn't have a field goal in the last 7:12 of the half.

Late in the first half, the Knicks found a way to slow down Dragic, as Tyson Chandler hit him in the eye while going for a loose ball. He left the game and needed five stitches to close the cut, but Dragic returned to start the third quarter -- and the Suns picked up right where they left off.

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"We just never had good floor balance and they were just running right up our butts," Woodson said. "We just got to regroup from this because we're going to play another team similar to this in the Warriors."

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