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Knicks 106, Suns 99

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NEW YORK -- The defense that New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson and his team have prided themselves on this season was a little shaky in the second half, but the rest of the elements that have the Knicks off to one of their best starts were in place.

Carmelo Anthony again led the offensive barrage, scoring 34 points, and several Knicks stepped up with players out because of injuries as well as the ejection of Rasheed Wallace early in the first quarter. The result was a 106-99 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks moved to 12-4 on the season and remained unbeaten at home with a 7-0 record.

The Suns lost their third straight game and fourth in their last five on a six-game road trip but tested the Knicks late.

Trailing by a wide margin for most of the game, the Suns were persistent in the fourth quarter, cutting into a 17-point lead early and staging a late run to close to four with under a minute left.

Suns forward P.J. Tucker hit a layup to make it 103-97 with 55 seconds left and the Suns pulled to four on a layup by Shannon Brown with 29.3 seconds left after Knicks guard Ronnie Brewer missed two free throws.

But J.R. Smith hit two free throws with 26.1 seconds left to give the Knicks a 105-99 lead and Phoenix got no closer after Tyson Chandler grabbed a long rebound of a Suns miss and then hit one of two free throws after he was fouled.

Raymond Felton scored 23 points and had seven assists for the Knicks. Chandler had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Marcin Gorat led the Suns with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Brown added 17 points.

Sebastian Telfair, the former New York City high school star out of Lincoln High in Coney Island, scored seven points for the Suns to spark a 13-2 run starting the fourth quarter. The spurt trimmed the Knicks' 17-point lead to 91-85, capped by a 3-pointer by Jared Dudley with 6:54 to play.

But the Knicks answered with a 6-2 spurt, with Anthony scoring four points during the stretch to get the lead back to 99-87.

The Knicks maintained a 17-point halftime lead after the third quarter, with Anthony scoring 13 points in the period to give the Knicks a 89-72 lead entering the fourth.

With Wallace ejected after getting a second technical for arguing the first after a foul call with 1:14 left and Marcus Camby out with a sore foot, Chris Copeland got an opportunity for more playing time. The 28-year-old rookie who spent five seasons playing overseas made the most of it, scoring eight points in a little more than nine minutes in the first half and energizing the crowd.

The Suns, down 21-6 in the first quarter, closed to 24-20 at the end of the quarter, thanks to a 14-3 run in which Dudley scored five points and Gorat added four.

But Copeland sparked the Knicks and especially caught the fans' attention with a one-handed slam to put back a missed 3-pointer by Anthony with 5:47 left in the half. The basket gave the Knicks a 39-31 lead and the Garden a little extra juice, which increased a moment later when Steve Novak drilled a three to give the Knicks an 11-point lead.

With Anthony scoring seven of his 17 first-half points, the Knicks finished the half on a 20-11 run for a 59-42 halftime lead.

NOTES: Knicks center Marcus Camby was out with a sore left foot, coach Mike Woodson announced shortly before the game. Camby, who got a late start this season because of a calf injury, has played sparingly so far because Woodson said he needs to improve his conditioning. ... Knicks point guard Jason Kidd missed his fourth straight game with back spasms. ... Woodson and the Knicks' coaching staff visited Woodson's mentor and former Knicks coach Larry Brown, when Brown's SMU team played at Hofstra on Saturday. Woodson praised the coach Sunday, saying in his press conference that Brown taught him how to prepare. Woodson uses Brown's slogan to "Play hard, play smart, play together," which is written on the board in the Knicks' locker room. ... Telfair scored eight of his 11 points in the first half for the Suns.
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