The New York Knicks are set to begin a four game west coast trip tonight as they will face off against the Phoenix Suns.
The Knicks are winners of two straight and are coming off their most impressive win of the season as they defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 128-114. Wilson Chandler had a season-high 31 points while Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton added 28 apiece as New York won their 20th game of the season. Last season, they did not win their 20th game until February 26th.
The big story of tonight’s game is this will be Stoudemire’s first game back in Phoenix since signing with New York over the summer. Stoudemire spent his first eight seasons with the Suns and was an All Star in five of those seasons.
Since signing with New York, Stoudemire has rejuvenated a franchise and a city by having his best season of his career as he is second in the league in scoring with 26.7 points. The Knicks are looking like they will be heading into the post season for the first time in seven years while the Suns are nothing like the team that made the Western Conference finals last season.
The Suns had a chance to retain Stoudemire but were very cautious about giving him a long term deal because of his health issues. Stoudemire has had six surgeries in the last eight years and has had a history of knee problems. Because of those concerns, the Suns offered Amar’e a five year deal worth almost $105 million but he had to agree to an incentive clause that was based on how many games he played.
Stoudemire decided that was not enough and bolted to the Knicks to take a guaranteed five year, $100 million deal to become the face of the franchise. The impact of Stoudemire’s departure can’t be underestimated. The Knicks are the best they have been in almost 10 years and the Suns are a team that is clearly on the decline.
Stoudemire has easily the best Knick since Patrick Ewing and has brought the Garden back to life. Every night, the fans are letting Stoudemire know what they think him as they are yelling”MVP” every chance they get. He has made the Knicks relevant again and has sqaushed thoughts that he may be a little lost without Steve Nash. It looks like it’s the other way around.
Phoenix are 14-19 this season and have lost seven of their last 10 games. They are coming off a 99-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers which gave them their sixth loss in their last seven.
The Suns are a team that has completely overhauled it’s roster after the three way trade that sent Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu for Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat. There is also rumblings that Nash could be on his way out and you know the Knicks will somehow be in the mix for Nash.
After tonight’s game, the Knicks will head to Staples Center on Sunday night when they will face the Los Angeles Lakers.
New York (20-14)
PG- Raymond Felton
SG- Landry Fields
PF- Amar’e Stoudemire
C- Ronny Turiaf
PG- Steve Nash
SG- Vince Carter
SF- Grant Hill
PF- Marcin Gotat
C- Robin Lopez