It's shaping up to be a rather uneventful Monday in the NBA, with seven games on the docket and none of the high-profile variety. The lone game of real interest comes out on the East Coast, with the red-hot New York Knicks facing a Phoenix Suns team reeling a bit in the wake of the Eric Bledsoe injury.
The Knicks have won four straight games and five of six, and they now find themselves just a half game out of a playoff spot in the dreadful Eastern Conference. In New York's latest win, a 102-92 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, it was the bench that got the job done. Amar'e Stoudemire scored a game-high 21 points as the Knicks' subs outscored the Sixers' subs 50-20. Stoudemire will look to keep the strong play going against his former team, who he has averaged 29.0 points against in three games.
The other key performance off the bench against the Sixers came from the embattled J.R. Smith. The Knicks shooting guard was benched in the prior game due to his shoelace antics, but he bounced back with one of his better efforts of the season. Smith had 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting overall and 3-of-4 from three, marking just the second time all year he made more than half of his shots in a game.
As for the Suns, they're losers of two straight and four of six since Bledsoe went down with a right knee injury. Bledsoe could be back in a month or two because he opted to have his meniscus removed rather than repaired, so Phoenix will try and just hang on for dear life as they await his return.
The Suns' offense has taken a noticeable dip without Bledsoe in the lineup, as they're shooting just 40.6 percent thus far on their current five-game road trip. The task won't be much easier against the Knicks, who are holding opponents to 87.3 points per game during their four-game winning streak.