Injury-plagued Knicks gear up for scorching Suns game

Here come the Suns, the hottest team in the NBA.

Building on their breakout journey to the NBA Finals last season, the Suns will arrive at Madison Square Garden on Friday night on a 14-game winning streak and with the second best league record, at 15-3. .

Veteran point guard Chris Paul, in his 17th season, leads the NBA in assists at 10.4 per game, including a dozen dimes, as well as 17 points, in Phoenix’s win Wednesday in Cleveland.

“It’s just amazing,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said this week when asked about Paul, 36. “I think he’s always been a great player. His career speaks for itself. He’s been through a period where he’s had injuries, but the way he takes care of his body and he’s kind of just been through that and he’s healthy, I think you see what his leadership has done for. this team. He got the best of them.

Two-time All-Star Devin Booker, who scored 35 points on 14 of 21 shots for the Suns in that 120-115 win over the Cavaliers, leads Phoenix with 23.1 points per game. Deandre Ayton, the first overall pick in 2018, averages a double-double, with 16.0 points and 11.8 rebounds per appearance.

Julius Randle and Chris Paul.
Getty Images (2)

“When you have veterans who have been through wars, when you can pair that with a young star like a Booker, I think that’s very beneficial,” Thibodeau said. “You want your vets to help you lead the way with young people.

“And it has to be someone who can still play and has everyone’s respect. I think [Paul] is the perfect guy for that. You see how dynamic their backcourt is with these two. That’s why they have the record they make.

Mitchell Robinson (concussion), Derrick Rose (ankle) and Taj Gibson (groin) have all been listed as questionable for the Knicks (10-8) after missing Tuesday’s home win over the Lakers, who played without LeBron James . Thibodeau’s side will also play Saturday night in Atlanta as part of a series of top-tier opponents that will include the Nets, Bulls and Nuggets next week.

“You want to establish consistency in how you prepare for each game, and to know your opponent well, to know what makes you win,” said Thibodeau. “We have to go out and run, you have to play for 48 minutes. … We have to make sure we go prepared for it and you have to do it as a team. “

When asked in which areas he thinks the Knicks need to “tighten up” their game before facing the Suns, Thibodeau said, “Every area to be honest with you. So it starts with the transition, then the pick-and-roll game. “

Phoenix holds the league’s best road record at 7-1, while the Knicks have won just half of their 10 games at the Garden, including two losses to the team with the worst overall record in the Conference. the East, the Magic (4 -15).

“You can’t overlook any of their players,” Thibodeau said of the Suns, who are coached by former Knick Monty Williams. “[Mikal] Bridges is a very good player, Ayton played very well, the bench played well. [Jae] Crowder is a guy you can’t ignore. This team is really well put together. Their bench was great. They get a lot out of it [JaVale] McGee? And they are very well balanced.

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