NEW YORK (AP) - The Suns sure look different from the team that went down without a fight in Amare Stoudemire's return to Phoenix.
They're scoring again like the old Suns teams did - and that's what it took to win in Stoudemire's highest-scoring game since departing the desert.
Vince Carter scored 29 points, including the 20,000th of his career, and Phoenix ran past the New York Knicks 129-121 on Monday to match a season high with its third straight victory.
``I know that thing about defense wins championships, but I still haven't seen a team yet win a game 0-0,' coach Alvin Gentry said. ``You've got to be able to make shots and put it in the basket. That's the only way you're going to beat a team that's geared up to score.'
Grant Hill added 25 points for Phoenix, which overcame a season-high 41 points from Stoudemire and handed the Knicks their third loss in a row. Steve Nash finished with 15 points and 11 assists in a good start to a five-game Eastern trip for the Suns.
The Suns also held Stoudemire scoreless for the first eight minutes of the final period after he had 33 points through three, giving them just enough defense in a matchup that not surprisingly was otherwise all about offense.
Former Knicks forward Channing Frye scored 18 points. It was the Suns' third consecutive high-scoring performance after a four-game stretch in which they were held below 100, the first time that had happened since December 2005.
One of those came 10 days ago during a 121-96 loss in Stoudemire's return to Phoenix. But the Suns got revenge against him and former coach Mike D'Antoni and have scored at least 115 points in every game during their winning streak.
``I don't like to think of things in terms of retribution and payback, but it didn't feel good to get smashed at home, so it was a rewarding win today,' Nash said.
Carter, who became the eighth active player to reach 20,000 points, also added 12 rebounds. That Jan. 7 blowout loss was only his fifth game with the Suns after his acquisition from Orlando.
``They beat us pretty good last time and it was still my first couple of games there, so I just felt like I could have given this team more,' Carter said. ``Now that I feel more comfortable, I see where I can get my shots or just make plays for the team.'
Wilson Chandler scored 23 points for the Knicks, and Raymond Felton had 13 assists but another poor shooting night, going 3 for 13 for seven points. The Knicks fell to 22-18 after a game that D'Antoni said ``definitely should be a wake-up call.'
``We know that four games over .500 is unacceptable,' Stoudemire said. ``We had a chance to really take advantage of our situation and we didn't. So now we have to fight to get back to where we rightfully belong.'
Danilo Gallinari scored 17 points in his return to the lineup after missing six games with a sprained left knee, but the Knicks were without big man Ronny Turiaf because of a bruised right hip.
Stoudemire left Phoenix for New York in the summer when the Suns wouldn't fully guarantee him a maximum contract over concerns about the long-term condition of his knees. He scored at least 20 points for the 25th consecutive game and moved ahead of Bernard King for the third-longest streak in franchise history, four shy of Richie Guerin's record set in 1962.
He also picked up his 12th technical after he bumped Frye in the first half and is now four away from an automatic one-game suspension.
``I think he's fine. I've been around Amare a long time. He can control it and hopefully he will,' D'Antoni said. ``I think we'll attack some problems before we attack that. We've got some problems.'
Hakim Warrick, essentially Stoudemire's replacement, scored six straight for Phoenix before Gallinari's 3-pointer tied it at 106 with 5:29 left.
Nash answered with a 3, Carter scored five straight for Phoenix, and Frye capped a 13-4 surge with another 3-pointer that gave the Suns a 119-110 lead with 2:39 remaining. The Suns stayed ahead with their excellent foul shooting, finishing 28 of 31.
Notes: Knicks president Donnie Walsh believes he could acquire at least one first-round pick if needed. The Knicks have long been considered to be running behind the Nets in the Carmelo Anthony chase, in part because they have no pick to include in a trade with Denver. ``I could probably get more than one, but I'm not going to say how many,' Walsh said before the game. ``But I'm confident I can get a first-round pick.' ... Gentry was impressed with New York Jets coach Rex Ryan last week and imitated Ryan's news conference in which he said the matchup with the Patriots came down to himself against New England coach Bill Belichick. ``It's personal, it's me and Mike, OK,' Gentry joked of the matchup with his former boss. ``It just comes down to me and Mike, that's it. It doesn't have anything to do with the players, anything. It's me and Mike. I've got to be a better coach than Mike today, OK?' ... Speaking of football, wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Owens were sitting in the same row across from the Phoenix bench.
The Associated Press News Service
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