PHOENIX (AP) — Amare Stoudemire made a triumphant return to Phoenix and his New York Knicks put on a performance that mirrored the high-flying Suns of years gone by.
The Knicks buried Phoenix with an avalanche of 17 3-pointers in a 121-96 rout. The 17 3s, in 33 attempts, matched New York’s season high and were second-most in franchise history.
Stoudemire received a rousing ovation when he was introduced.
“It was great,” he said. “It lets me know that the fans are still appreciative of the hard work I put on this court and the perseverance to injuries. It was a great ovation and I love the Phoenix fans forever.”
Raymond Felton had his first career triple-double with 23 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as the Suns matched their second-worst home loss since 2000.
“The ball was coming my way. Everybody did a great job of boxing out so it allowed me to get some rebounds,” Felton said. “That’s what really happened so I’ve got to take my hat off to my teammates. Once again they made me look good tonight.”
Stoudemire had 19 by halftime. But it was the Knicks’ sharpshooters who turned the game into a blowout with a 3-point barrage in a 38-point third quarter.
“I had one objective and that was to dominate from the start,” Stoudemire said. “That was my main goal was to dominate from the get-go. I got it going early. Then in the second half they went to a zone and my teammates got it going.”
It was the kind of performance Suns fans were accustomed to in coach Mike D’Antoni’s 4 1/2 seasons in Phoenix, before he jumped ship for New York in 2008.
“They really followed what we tried to do,” D’Antoni said, “take them off 3s, play them straight up, make them make hard jump shots and I thought that kind of set the tone. Then we were just hitting 3s and that was kind of the difference in the game.”
Six Knicks sank 3s in their most one-sided win of the season, led by Felton’s 5 of 10. Wilson Chandler scored 16, Shawne Williams 15 – going 4 of 9 on 3-pointers – and Landry Fields 14 for New York in its first stop on a four-game trip through the West.
Vince Carter scored 19 and Goran Dragic 17 for the sinking Suns, who have lost seven of eight and 11 of their last 14. Phoenix has scored fewer than 100 points for four straight games, the first time that’s happened since December 2005.
Coach Alvin Gentry was predictably curt with his answers after the blowout.
“We didn’t play well at all,” he said. “I think we make progress defensively and then we take steps backwards. When we struggle with our shot, we have to be able to guard guys defensively so there’s not that separation. We didn’t do that. The end result was an embarrassing loss.”
Seldom-used Knicks center Timofey Mozgov was ejected from the game for elbowing Robin Lopez with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
The Knicks made 7-of-10 3-pointers in their 38-point third quarter and were 9 of 15 in the second half.
New York led 55-45 at the half, then turned the game into a blowout with a 14-0 third-quarter outburst. Williams had a three-point play and two 3s in the run, Felton hit a 3, then capped the run with a lob to Stoudemire for an emphatic dunk, the power forward pumping his fist in triumph before his feet hit the ground.
Stoudemire played eight seasons with the Suns, making five All-Star teams, before signing a five-year, $100 million contract with the Knicks. He is off to the best start of his career, entering the game as the league’s No. 2 scorer behind Kevin Durant.
The game was a glaring example of the Knicks’ rise in confidence and the Suns’ fade with a mishmash of wing players and no strength in the middle.
New York took its biggest lead with a 14-5 run, punctuated by Williams’ 3-pointer, that made it 115-81 with 5:16 to play and most of the crowd long gone.
Notes: The Knicks play the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday night. New York has lost six straight to the Lakers with its last win coming Feb. 13, 2007, in Los Angeles. … Lopez, a former starter in Gentry’s doghouse, didn’t get into the game until there was just over six minutes to play. … The Suns and Knicks meet in New York on Jan. 17. … Phoenix had won six of the last eight against the Knicks. … The Knicks earned their 21st win, something they didn’t do last season until March 3.