The Knicks continue to prove they are a different team in 2014 than they were the last two months of 2013. They won a game Monday night they probably would have found a way to lose earlier in the season.
They executed and made plays down the stretch that they hadn't been making, extending their season-best winning streak to five games with a 98-96 overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns at the Garden. "It was one of those games we would have lost earlier in the year," Raymond Felton said. "We're winning those games now."
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The Knicks, who are 6-1 in January and 15-22 overall, made it harder than it needed to be. They looked as if they were going to put the Suns away early, going ahead by 12 in the first quarter and 14 in the second. But they didn't deliver the knockout punch and had to come back from five down late in the fourth.
The Knicks held the Suns to 0-for-7 shooting in overtime, but even after they went up five in OT, they wasted chances to seal the game. They missed their last four shots -- two by Carmelo Anthony and one each by Andrea Bargnani and Iman Shumpert.
Leading 98-95 in the waning seconds, Anthony missed a forced jumper right before the shot clock expired. The Suns rebounded and called timeout with three seconds to go.
Mike Woodson instructed the Knicks to foul before the Suns could shoot a three-pointer, and Felton grabbed Channing Frye on the catch. Frye missed the first and made the second with 2.5 seconds left for the last point of the game.
Earlier this season, Woodson told the Knicks to foul in the closing seconds against the Pacers and Wizards. They misplayed it both times and lost both games.
"We lost some close games earlier in the year," Woodson said. "And I call some of the games just boneheaded plays on our part as a coaching staff and as guys playing on the floor, we just didn't do the right things.
"I think in close games, we are starting to learn how to figure things out at the end."
Anthony shot 9-for-24 but finished with 29 points, 16 rebounds and four assists. One dish led to a three-pointer by Felton (19 points) that put the Knicks up 92-90 with 53.1 seconds left in regulation.
With the Knicks down 90-89, Anthony went to the basket and had two Suns around him. When he flipped it behind him to Felton in the corner, the point guard buried the big three-pointer to put the Knicks back on top.
"I saw a big man," Anthony said. "I saw my guy had a hand in my face. I just peeked at Ray, saw him in the corner, threw him the ball and he made the shot."
On the next trip, Gerald Green, who was 2-for-16 and took several wild shots, missed a turnaround fadeaway jumper that J.R. Smith rebounded. But Anthony's long jumper was off.
The Knicks appeared to get a stop when Kenyon Martin tied up Leandro Barbosa (21 points), but he was called for a foul. Barbosa's two free throws with 1.2 seconds left tied it at 92.
Smith, who hit two game-winners last season, had a chance to do it again, but he shot an air ball from the corner as the buzzer sounded.
In overtime, Martin fed Anthony for an alley-oop slam and then threw down a missed three-pointer by Felton to give the Knicks a 96-92 lead. Anthony hit a turnaround jumper to make it 98-93 with 2:41 left.
Goran Dragic's 28 points led Phoenix (21-16).
The Knicks, who play Tuesday night at Charlotte, tied the Nets for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
"Now I think mentally we're a different type of team," Anthony said. "Mentally, we're starting to believe when we do get down, we still have a chance to win the basketball game."