Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 1/26

Game 1: Sunday, January 26th
Game 2: Friday, February 14th

Suns 98

(26-19, 8-16 away)

Knicks 106

(18-24, 13-12 home)

    1:00 PM ET, January 26, 2003

    Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 27 21 21 2998
    NY 37 27 25 17106

    Top Performers

    PHX: S. Marbury 31 Pts, 3 Reb, 9 Ast, 4 Stl

    NY: K. Thomas 28 Pts, 17 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Stoudemire scores just three points for Suns

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Kurt Thomas did more to further his All-Star prospects than he did to justify his nickname.

    Kurt Thomas

    The player known as "Crazy Eyes'' scored 28 points, grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds and glared at the referees only once Sunday as the Knicks opened a big lead and then held off the Phoenix Suns 106-98.

    "I thought he did a great job keeping his composure. That's the demeanor he has to establish, and that's the kind of relationship he should have with the referees,'' Knicks coach Don Chaney said. "If the call is made, whether he thinks it's justified or not -- keep your mouth quiet and concentrate on the game. And I think that's what he did today.''

    Chaney and the rest of the Knicks have been frustrated by Thomas' inability to keep himself out of foul trouble and his propensity to cast a dirty look at the officials any time he feels a questionable call is made against him.

    Players who continually glare and complain never seem to get the benefit of the doubt in the NBA -- a lesson that Thomas has stubbornly refused to learn.

    Sunday was different, however, with Thomas's only glare coming when Dick Bavetta called a foul on Latrell Sprewell late in the first quarter after Thomas had already collected 14 points and six rebounds.

    "I just wanted to know who he was calling it on,'' said Thomas, who hopes to be chosen as a reserve center for the East when All-Star reserves -- voted on by the 29 NBA coaches -- are announced Tuesday.

    Sprewell also scored 28 points and Allan Houston added 16 for the Knicks, who benefited from one of the worst games of the season by Suns rookie Amare Stoudemire.

    The 20-year-old phenom had just 3 points and six rebounds and missed three of four free throws.

    "They do a lot of pushing,'' Stoudemire said. "It shows they're scared to play. I like a fair-and-square game. Don't push and shove. I don't think it's right. Kurt Thomas does it more than any other guy I've played against.''

    Stephon Marbury had 31 points and nine assists and Shawn Marion scored 24 for the Suns, who cut a 22-point deficit to five in the late going but couldn't get any closer.

    Thomas started 7-for-10 as the Knicks got off to a great start, making 14 of their first 19 shots. Thomas had 22 points and 10 rebounds by halftime, reaching the 20-10 mark on a turnaround jumper with 2:20 left before halftime for a 59-40 lead.

    Sprewell had 20 at the half as New York held a 64-48 lead, with Scott Williams helping keep the Suns in the game by scoring 14 -- two shy of his season-high.

    The Knicks opened the second half with a 6-0 run to make it 70-48, but New York's offensive rhythm began to disappear. On one possession they grabbed five offensive rebounds but failed to score.

    Trailing 89-69 entering the final 12 minutes, Phoenix turned up its defensive pressure by going to a full-court press and a half-court trap. The tactic rattled the Knicks, and the Suns didn't quit.

    The score was 101-90 when Marbury dribbled and spun through traffic for a reverse layup attempt. The ball came to a rest on the back of the rim, prompting a jump ball at midcourt that Thomas won.

    Still the Suns kept coming, getting a driving layup from Marbury, forcing a 24-second violation, then getting a 3 from Marbury after a pair of offensive rebounds.

    Phoenix had the ball trailing 101-95 after Houston shot an airball with 1:31 left, but Marbury missed a 3, Marion missed an 18-footer and Marbury missed a pair of foul shots with 1:05 remaining.

    Sprewell answered with a 16-footer and then made two foul shots for a 105-98 lead with 35 seconds left.

    Game notes

    Williams sprained his right ankle early in the third quarter after a collision with Stoudemire and did not return. ... The Knicks finish their five-game homestand Tuesday night against Atlanta before a three-game road trip to Miami, Memphis and Milwaukee. ... Phoenix finishes its road trip Monday at Washington, then takes an 11-game home winning streak into Wednesday night's matchup with the Lakers.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 98 106
    FGM-FGA 36-90 (.400) 44-90 (.489)
    3PM-3PA 6-21 (.286) 7-19 (.368)
    FTM-FTA 20-31 (.645) 11-15 (.733)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-47 12-49
    Assists 22 21
    Turnovers 10 11
    Steals 8 5
    Blocks 4 1
    Fast Break Points 11 1
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (2/0) 24 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    New York
    Stephon Marbury Marbury
    Points: 31
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Kurt Thomas Thomas
    Points: 28
    Reb: 17
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1