(Sports Network) - The New York Knicks hope to put together a rebound effort on Wednesday night as they look to deal the Phoenix Suns a third straight defeat.
The Knicks began a three-game road trip on Christmas Day with a 100-94 setback to the Los Angeles Lakers. It was New York's third loss in five games following an 18-5 start to the season.
In a battle of the league's two leading scorers, the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony matched Kobe Bryant's 34 points, but New York netted just 16 points in the fourth quarter.
"Give them credit, they made the plays defensively," Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said. "The fourth quarter was pretty much in their favor. We had some breakdowns late and they cost us."
Anthony had just 10 points in the first half on Tuesday, but scored 17 in the third. His 28.5 points per game trail only Bryant's 29.9 in the league.
J.R. Smith added 25 points, but only Raymond Felton (10 points) joined Smith and Anthony in double figures.
"(Anthony's) been consistent for us all season; we just didn't get it from our other guys tonight in terms of making plays down the stretch," said Woodson. "The defense was pretty solid I thought for most of the game, but we had some key breakdowns when it really counted and that cost us the game I thought."
Anthony was on point in an earlier meeting with the Suns this season, netting 34 points with six rebounds in a 106-99 home win on Dec. 2. Felton added 23 points and seven assists as New York snapped a two-game slide to Phoenix.
The Suns were paced by 18 points and 10 boards by Marcin Gortat, while Shannon Brown had 17 points and seven rebounds.
Phoenix is hosting New York for the first time since Jan. 7, 2011, when the Knicks snapped a seven-game series road losing streak with a 121-96 triumph.
The Suns have dropped two straight following a four-game slide and have been out of action since a 103-77 setback to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Jared Dudley had 19 points and Luis Scola contributed 11 for Phoenix, which fell to 9-6 at home compared to 2-11 as the guest.
Markieff Morris totaled 10 points, seven rebounds and five steals in defeat, one in which the Suns trailed by as many as 31.
It was a bit of a chippy affair and Suns head coach Alvin Gentry picked up a pair of technical fouls late in the second quarter that led to his ejection as he argued with an official.
"It wasn't really a basketball game. There was a lot of wrestling, a lot of fighting, and just basically was not the performance we wanted to give," explained Gortat. "I think at some point we stopped playing basketball, we stopped executing and doing stuff that we are supposed to do. We started wrestling and started worrying about referees and started complaining more and not worrying about basketball."
The Suns remained two wins shy of 2,000 all-time in franchise history. They are on pace to become the fourth-fastest club to reach the mark behind only Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia.