PHOENIX — Guard Goran Dragic scored 18 of his 32 points in the first quarter and the Phoenix Suns combined 14 3-pointers with 26 fast-break points to rout the New York Knicks 112-88 on Friday night.
Guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Markieff Morris added 16 points each for the Suns, who have won a season-high six straight games and held on to a playoff spot in the tightly packed Western Conference race.
Dragic, who suffered a five-stitch cut over his left eye in the first half, was 11-for-17 from the field and topped 30 points for the ninth time this season.
The Suns lead the idle, ninth-place Dallas Mavericks by one full game in the standings.
Forward Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points and forward Amar’e Stoudemire had 19 for the Knicks, who lost for the third time in the past four games and dropped two full games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Guard JR Smith had 10 of New York’s first 19 points but only five the rest of the way.
Anthony has now lost 13 straight games at US Airways Center, dating to his rookie season with the Denver Nuggets in 2004.
Dragic made 7-of-8 shots from the field in the first quarter, including each of his three 3-pointers, keying a 13-2 Phoenix run that turned a 22-19 deficit into a 32-24 lead. The Phoenix bench outscored the Knicks 9-0 in the quarter, all on 3-pointers from guard Gerald Green (two) and Markieff Morris (one) on the way to a 39-point night.
The Knicks shaved a 34-26 first-quarter deficit to 38-34 on guard Ian Shumpert’s 17-footer with 8:55 left. But the Suns answered with a 17-5 run, with Markieff (nine) and forward Marcus Morris (four) scoring 13 points. Marcus Morris’ tip-in made it 53-37 Phoenix with 4:01 left.
The Suns ended the half with nine straight points on a dunk by center Miles Plumlee off a Marcus Morris feed, giving Phoenix a 62-40 bulge at intermission.
The Suns were up by as many as 32 points in the third quarter, their largest lead in any game this season.
The Knicks cut the Phoenix lead to 17 at 92-75 on two free throws by Stoudemire with 8:27 left. But the Suns answered with eight straight points, with Dragic following a Bledsoe 3-pointer with a 3-point play to ice the game.
NOTES: Suns G Eric Bledsoe came into Friday night with four straight games scoring 20-plus points (averaging 21.8 points). He had never scored 20 in more than two in a row previously. … If the season ended Friday, the Suns would have been the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference instead of fighting for their postseason lives in the West. … Knicks coach Mike Woodson on trying to make a playoff run: “Every game is tough for us. It doesn’t matter who we play. It just seems like everyone gets up for our game.” … The Suns are 19-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field this season, something they did three times during the five-game winning streak they took into Friday. Chicago and Minnesota are the only other teams with a perfect record when shooting 50 percent or better. … Knicks F Amar’e Stoudemire returned to Phoenix for just the second time since signing a five-year, $100 million free agent contract with the Knicks in the summer of 2010.
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