NEW YORK KNICKS (14-10)
- The Knicks have been four games over .500 twice since 2001-02 at this point of the season, so there is growing excitement around the team. They’ve won nine of 12 and 11 of 15 including four straight on the road.
- This morning before shootaround, the Knicks were downplaying where they are at in the standings, according to Lance Thomas. When I asked Thomas about the danger of being satisfied, he shot that down, saying. “We want to keep winning. There is a willingness to stick together and we have three more games on this road trip. We will see where we are at then.”
- Tonight’s game in Phoenix marks Jeff Hornacek’s return to the place he was fired from 10 months ago. Since his departure, the Suns have gone 16-41, and are 30-76 since the start of last season.
- When asked about his feelings on being fired from Phoenix, Hornacek soft peddled it, saying, “We live in a world of instant gratification. When you don’t win, someone will be to blame.” As to the claim that Jeff had “lost” the locker room in Phoenix, he said, “You can look at my text messages, my players were behind me 100 percent. It’s something management has to say sometimes, to give a reason for making a change.”
- I talked with Courtney Lee, Thomas and Brandon Jennings earlier today. They all said the team wants to win this one for Coach Hornacek. They know how much this means to him, no matter how many times he says it’s another game.
- Kristaps Porzingis is crediting the team’s overall respect and love for each other for their success on the road. “We have great connections on and off the court,” KP said. “We get along very well, but also, we have guys capable of making shots late.”
- When discussing Jennings — who won as a member of the opposition for the first time at Staples Center Sunday night — Porzingis added, “Jennings is fun to watch when I’m on the bench and entertaining all the time when I’m on the court with him.”
PHOENIX SUNS (7-17)
- The Suns have lost four of five overall as well as four of their last five home games at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
- Phoenix’s offense is explosive and is ranked seventh in the NBA averaging 106.8 per game, while Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and T. J. Warren are averaging 56 points between them. However, Phoenix ranks 29th defensively, allowing 113.3 points per.
- When the Suns give up 100 points, they are 5-16. They’ve held only three opponents under 100 points, going 2-1 in those contests. When they trail at the half, the Suns are 1-12, and 0-13 when they trail after three quarters.
- Tyson Chandler, the former Knick, had his best game of the season vs. the Pelicans in Phoenix’s last game with 14 points and 21 rebounds. He averaged 10 and 10 with the Knicks in his three years in New York.
- This morning, Chandler said, “I loved my time in New York, but it’s part of the business that we players are moved to different cities. This Knicks team is different than the teams I was on because they are young and learning how to win. It’s a process.”