|Quentin Richardson has the upper hand - but Phoenix's Grant Hill was the one who went home a winner. (KATHY WILLENS/Associated Press)|
Happy and healthy, Grant Hill delivered a reminder that he can still be an elite NBA player.
Hill scored a season-high 28 points, 9 during a fourth-quarter flurry that broke open a close game, and the Phoenix Suns pulled away to beat the host Knicks, 115-104, last night.
Frequently injured in recent years, Hill said he felt rejuvenated by the move to Phoenix, where he signed during the offseason.
"Sometimes you need new scenery," he said. "Coming here is a great environment, great coaching staff, great guys, and just the chance to break away from all the ankle talk and stuff from the past, that's all behind me and I feel good. Now it's about trying to go out and help this team win."
It was a tense atmosphere afterward in the Knicks' locker room, where almost all the players were gone by the time the media was allowed in. Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said during his postgame press conference that his team got impatient in the fourth quarter, but when asked why that happened, he paused for 10 seconds before saying, "I'll keep that thought to myself."
"We stick together," said Quentin Richardson, one of the only players who was still around. "We're going to keep working hard. We'll persevere."
Amare Stoudemire added 28 points and 12 rebounds to help the Suns win for the 10th time in 12 games. Phoenix also got 15 points from Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa, and 9 points and 15 assists from Steve Nash.
Hill shot 13 of 17 in his highest-scoring game in nearly two years. He went to the bench for good midway through the fourth quarter.
"He's a seven-time All-Star," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's healthy and playing great. Obviously he had a good game. Almost a triple-double. He's capable and has done it all his career whenever he's been healthy, and he's healthy. I don't think it's unusual that he did it."
Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury scored 21 points apiece for the Knicks, who played the speedy Suns even for three quarters, keeping the "Fire Isiah!" chants on hold until there were under four minutes left. Zach Randolph added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite a terrific start, Phoenix led by only 1 point after three quarters. Hill converted a 3-point play to open the fourth, then knocked down three consecutive jumpers to extend the lead to 94-84 less than 1 1/2 minutes into the period.
Spurs 100, Trail Blazers 79 - Tony Parker scored 27 points and dished out eight assists as host San Antonio cruised, despite losing Tim Duncan in the second quarter.
With 7:40 left in the first half, Duncan got caught up with Portland's James Jones and fell to the floor clutching his knee near the Spurs' basket. Duncan left the court helped by teammates Francisco Elson and Robert Horry.
Doctors determined Duncan bruised his right knee and sprained his right ankle. The team said all of Duncan's ligaments appeared stable but that he would undergo tests today.
"It looked bad at first," said Parker. "There were still like eight minutes left in the second quarter, so we just had to keep playing, keep playing and then whatever happens, happens."
Warriors 109, Sonics 96 - Visiting Golden State jumped to a 19-point lead in the first quarter and coasted to its sixth straight victory behind 20-point efforts by Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington.
The game was delayed about 15 minutes when a small fire broke out on the large KeyArena scoreboard above the court. During a timeout with seven minutes left in the first quarter, arena officials noticed a small fire coming from a spotlight attached to the bottom of the scoreboard, with smoke shooting from the top of the scoreboard. Seattle firefighters used an extinguisher to put out the flames and detached the spotlight from the scoreboard.
Magic 104, Lakers 97 - Hedo Turkoglu sparked a pivotal 9-0 run with a 3-pointer that put Orlando ahead to stay to lead the Magic in Los Angeles.
Rashard Lewis had a team-high 18 points and Dwight Howard had 17 points and eight rebounds as the Magic improved to 15-4 start, matching the best start in the franchise's 19-year history.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points, 19 in the first quarter. Lamar Odom had 19 points and 19 rebounds.
Pacers 101, Clippers 95 - Jamaal Tinsley scored 10 of his 29 points in the final four minutes and Jermaine O'Neal added 20 points and 15 rebounds despite a sore shoulder, to lead Indiana to victory in Los Angeles.
Chris Kaman had 22 points and 22 rebounds for the Clippers, who are in a 2-9 rut.
Nuggets 115, Heat 89 - Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points, and Kenyon Martin added a season-high 20 to help Denver rout visiting Miami.
Allen Iverson also scored 20 points, and Marcus Camby had 21 rebounds - his fifth 20-rebound game of the season - for the Nuggets, who led by 33 in the second half.
Pistons 118, Nets 95 - Jason Maxiell came off the bench to register 18 points and 11 rebounds to help Detroit rout visiting New Jersey.