Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/26/12
PHOENIX -- No Carmelo Anthony and no Raymond Felton? No problem for the New York Knicks. They still have J.R. Smith. Smith scored 27 points off a taxed Knicks bench including the final four of the game and an off-balance, 20-footer from the baseline as time expired as New York held on for a 99-97 win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night at U.S. Airways Center. Jared Dudley scored a career-high 36 points -- the first Sun to reach the 30-point plateau this season -- and gave the Phoenix a 97-95 lead on two free throws with 34.5 seconds left. But Smith tied the game at 97-97 on a 19-foot fade away from inside the circle with 10.6 left. Phoenix didn't get a shot off on the ensuing possession as Sebastian Telfair stepped out of bounds along the sideline with one full second left -- just enough time for Jason Kidd to hit Smith running toward the baseline for his winning shot over Phoenix's P.J. Tucker. Kidd, who had only 26 points in his last five games combined, scored 23 points including five 3-pointers and added eight assists and six rebounds. The Knicks lost both Anthony (knee) and Felton (finger) injury in the Christmas Day loss to the Lakers, but avoided losing back-to-back games for only the second time this season (Nov. 21-23). The Suns not only lost their third straight game, they lost point guard Goran Dragic in the final minute of the first half when he suffered contusions to his right hip, wrist and back. Dragic was knocked off-balance by Smith on a fastbreak layup and landed hard on his right hip. Smith was called for a flagrant 1 foul on the play. Dragic missed both free throws and then limped to the bench. Needing to replace the 44-plus points a game that Anthony (28.5) and Felton (15.8) provide, the Knicks got almost half their 27 first-quarter points (13) from big men Tyson Chandler and Kurt Thomas, who hit 6 of 9 shots. But the Suns got a big first quarter from Dudley, who averages 10.9 points a game but had 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting to help the Suns turn a six-point deficit into a 29-27 lead at the quarter. But the Knicks bench, even with two promotions to the starting lineup, was dominant in the second period -- scoring 24 points and opening a 54-44 halftime lead. New York hit five of six 3-pointers in the period, including two by Chris Copeland and one each by Steve Novak and Pablo Prigioni. Kidd hit two early 3-pointers early in the third quarter and the Knicks extended the lead to 14 at 68-54 on a Smith fade with 6:13 left. But the Suns mounted their furious comeback from there, with Dudley hitting a pair of 3-pointers and Telfair one during a 20-4 run capped by a Shannon Brown layup with 1:23 left to give Phoenix a 74-72 lead. NOTES: The Knicks' starting lineup included James White for Felton and Thomas for Anthony. ... Anthony suffered the hyperextended left knee against the Lakers but was able to finish the game. Felton sprained his finger during a third-quarter scramble for the ball with Steve Nash and came to the morning shoot with his hand in a soft cast. ... Rasheed Wallace (sore left foot) missed his sixth straight game and Amar'e Stoudemire (left knee) is hoping to make his season debut within the week. Suns coach Alvin Gentry said the absence of Anthony and Felton -- who put up a combined nine 3-pointers a night, wouldn't change the Knicks approach to the game. "They shoot 30 of them a game and they still have plenty of guys who are willing to take them." ... Michael Beasley returned to the Suns after missing Sunday's loss to the Clippers with an illness. ... The Suns came into the game 3-0 in home games following multiple days off, beating Portland (Nov. 21), Memphis (Dec. 12) and Sacramento (Dec. 17).
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