New York (13-18) at Phoenix (19-8)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 98° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Fri Dec 29, 2006
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The New York Knicks are playing their best basketball of the season right now, but they have a daunting task ahead of them when they face the Phoenix Suns on Friday at US Airways Center.

The Knicks (13-18) have won four of their last five games, with three of the wins coming in overtime. On Wednesday, New York needed triple overtime to pull out a 151-145 win over the Detroit Pistons. Former Suns guard Stephon Marbury scored a season-high 41 points before fouling out in the second extra period, but the short-handed Knicks had plenty of help with Jamal Crawford scoring 29 points—nine in the third overtime—Eddy Curry scoring 33 and Channing Frye adding 26.

“Tonight we never thought we were going to lose,” said Marbury, whom the Suns traded to the Knicks in an eight-player deal Jan. 5, 2004. “We always knew we were going to win. We played well down the stretch and guys made plays when they were supposed to.”

Since joining New York, Marbury is averaging 25.7 points in six games against his former team, but the Knicks have won only two of those matchups.

The Pacific Division-leading Suns (19-8) present a tough challenge, but the Knicks have risen to the occasion during their current run of strong play. Three of their last four wins came against teams with records above .500, including victories over division leaders Utah and Detroit.

“Our confidence is high right now,” Knicks forward Jared Jeffries said. “To still fight back shows that our confidence is high right now. (Detroit has) a really good team, so to (win) against them is a big deal.”

Friday begins a five-game road trip for the Knicks, who have lost three straight away from Madison Square Garden. New York has also lost its last three visits to Phoenix, and 11 of its last 15 trips there.

The Suns have dropped two of their last three games after a 15-game winning streak, including a 101-99 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. Two-time league MVP Steve Nash scored 24 points and added 13 assists in the losing cause, while Amare Stoudemire scored 25 points and added 13 rebounds.

Stoudemire had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but his shot bounced off the front of the rim as time expired, ending Phoenix’s eight-game road winning streak.

“It was about the best we could have expected in that situation,” Stoudemire said.

The Suns committed a season-high 22 turnovers.

“It was a great game, the last bucket won it,” said Nash. “Dirk (Nowitzki)’s a clutch player and he made a big shot. … It was pretty evenly matched teams. Little mistakes here and there cost us the game.”

Phoenix returns to the road on Sunday to face the Pistons.

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Friday, Dec 29