Vujacic, Anthony lead hot-shooting Knicks past Suns
PHOENIX (AP) Sasha Vujacic made the most of a rare opportunity to start and play big minutes.
The veteran guard scored a season-high 23 points and knocked down a career high-tying 6 of 7 3-pointers to help the New York Knicks blow out the Phoenix Suns 128-97 on Wednesday night.
''I just got into a game rhythm early. We played the right way. We were swinging the ball, we played as a team on both ends of the court. That helped everybody to have a good game,'' Vujacic said.
Vujacic made his first start since last November and logged a season-high 33 minutes after not playing at all in two of the Knicks' last three games. Carmelo Anthony added 23 points for New York.
''For somebody who has sat and not played as long as Sasha had and come out and make a contribution he did at both ends of the court,'' Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis said, ''he really helped establish our outside shooting game as well. I was happy for him.''
The Knicks hit a season-high 16 3s and achieved their highest point total and largest margin of victory in a game this season. Derrick Williams scored 18 points and Jose Calderon added 10 points and 12 assists.
''We got good scoring opportunities, good open shots and guys were willing to move the basketball,'' Rambis added. ''Guys got open shots and their feet were set and nice rhythm shots, and that always helps the ball go in.''
Rookie Devin Booker led Phoenix with 32 points. Tyson Chandler's nine rebounds gave the veteran center 9,005 for his career, making him the 50th player in NBA history to reach that milestone.
The Suns tried to mount a comeback in the third quarter and trimmed a 20-point halftime deficit to 13 on a jumper by Alex Len with 3:35 to go. But Anthony responded with his third 3-pointer of the game to make the score 83-67, and the Suns never got closer than 13 points in the second half.
''They made some big shots all night to kill our runs and we didn't have an answer for them,'' Suns guard Ronnie Price said.
The Knicks opened a 54-28 advantage in the first half. Former Suns center Robin Lopez blocked a shot at one end, then put in a hook shot at the other during their run that broke open the game.
Anthony scored 12 points in the second quarter and made 8 of 10 shots in the first half. New York led by as many as 36 points, which was the Knicks' largest lead at any point in a game this season.
''We didn't have it today,'' Booker said. ''They were getting wide-open shots. It was target practice. Anybody in the NBA can make those.''
Newly signed Chase Budinger scored two points in his Suns debut.
Knicks: Guard Arron Afflalo is dealing with an abdominal injury and didn't play, replaced in the starting lineup by Vujacic. ... F Lance Thomas did not play due to a sore left knee. ... NFL running back LeSean McCoy watched the game from courtside seats.
Suns: Guard Brandon Knight dressed and was on the bench for the Suns after being cleared to play for the first time since Jan. 19. Knight has dealt with a groin injury and began practicing this week, but he didn't get into the game. ''He didn't feel ready and it's his choice,'' Suns coach Earl Watson said.
The Suns celebrated their annual ''Los Suns'' Night in honor of Hispanic heritage, with the team wearing purple ''Los Suns'' jerseys. The starting lineups were announced in Spanish and fans were handed orange maracas.
Knicks: At Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
Suns: At Denver Thursday night.