NEW YORK — Kristaps Porzingis scored 37 points and the New York Knicks beat the Phoenix Suns 120-107 on Friday night, giving Jeff Hornacek his first victory over his former team.
Porzingis fell just shy of the career-best 38 points he scored Monday against Denver, getting his final points with a highlight-reel, end-to-end possession with just under 5 minutes remaining. He raced back in transition for an emphatic block on rookie Josh Jackson, then got the ball back in transition for a powerful dunk while being fouled to trigger loud “MVP! MVP!” chants.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points and Enes Kanter added 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Knicks. They bounced back from a loss to Houston on Wednesday to win for the fourth time in five games after a 0-3 start.
The Suns swept the two-game series last season, Hornacek’s first coaching the Knicks. He spent 2 1/2 seasons coaching the Suns from 2013-16.
Devin Booker scored 34 points for the Suns, who had won two straight and four of five after they also started 0-3. Phoenix lost forward T.J. Warren to a head injury in the first half, a game after he scored a career-best 40 points.
Porzingis was 13 for 22 from the field in his sixth 30-point performance in eight games this season.
The Knicks led 32-19 after one quarter, then ran off the first eight of the second for a 40-19 advantage. The Suns quickly regrouped to trim the deficit to 10, but the Knicks pushed it back to 20 on multiple occasions before halftime — including on Doug McDermott’s reverse dunk over Jackson — and led 65-50 at the break.
Phoenix cut it to 72-66 early in the third but the Knicks pulled away again, pushing the lead back to 16 by the end of the period.
Suns: Warren was hurt in the first quarter when he crashed into Kanter, remaining on the court for a few minutes before returning to the locker room. The Suns said he had a headache and wouldn’t play in the second half. ... F Marquese Chriss fouled out with more than 10 minutes remaining, finishing with five points and nine rebounds in about 16 minutes.
Knicks: Porzingis was listed as questionable to play after not practicing Thursday because of an illness. He went to the Knicks’ training facility and sat in on their film session, but was then sent home. ... Kanter was cut under his chin in the collision with Warren but was able to return without stitches.
Porzingis downplayed comments made in a Latvian magazine by his brother Janis, an agent in the firm that represents him, that surfaced a day earlier. Janis Porzingis referenced his brother’s dissatisfaction with the Knicks last season, when he skipped his exit interview, and noted that Kristaps would need to be happy to re-sign with the team in the future, even if leaving meant taking less money. But Kristaps said much of the comments were taken out of context and that fans shouldn’t be concerned. “I think the fans know I’m here in New York, I love New York and I see myself as a Knick for a long, long time, and I don’t think they should be worried about it,” Porzingis said.
Suns: Visit San Antonio on Sunday night.
Knicks: Host Indiana on Sunday night.