The Knicks suffered an unseemly setback on Friday, losing by 10 points to the basement-dwelling Sacramento Kings. Today marks their first chance to get back on track as they face the Phoenix Suns in the annual Martin Luther King Day matinee at Madison Square Garden. The Suns, though not quite as bad as the Kings, sit below .500 at 17-21 and got manhandled by the Knicks in a 25-point blowout in Phoenix earlier this month. That said, Phoenix has won straight and will likely bring a bit of extra motivation to this re-match with their former coach, Mike D'Antoni, and their ex-big man, Amar'e Stoudemire.
The Suns, like the Knicks, boast one of the league's speediest, most efficient offenses. They also play the league's clumsiest, least efficient defense, so this should be an opportunity for the Knicks -- particularly their main guns -- to erase some sorry shooting performances against Utah and Sacramento.
Danilo Gallinari's return to the lineup should help matters. The sweet-shootin', hair-gellin' Italian will get the start after missing six games with a sprained left knee. He'll rejoin the starting lineup while Ronny Turiaf, who contused his right hip on Friday, will move to the bench and likely play sparingly. Gallinari's comeback allows coach Mike D'Antoni to revert to his preferred small lineup which, for all its defensive and rebounding struggles, can really spread the floor for Stoudemire.
The Knicks and Suns tip off at 1 p.m. ET and will be televised on MSG.
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