NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis were back for the start and weren’t needed for the finish.
With a rough stretch behind them and the NBA champions ahead, the Knicks knew they couldn’t let this game get away.
"That was part of I know my game plan and my mindset, and that was big for me to send that message to everybody else," Anthony said, "just not play with this game and get after it from the jump."
Anthony had 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in his return from a two-game absence, and New York snapped a four-game losing streak with a 102-84 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
Porzingis also rejoined the lineup with seven points and seven rebounds, and the Knicks sent the Suns to their 13th straight road loss.
Anthony had sat out with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, and Porzingis missed his first game of the season Thursday with an upper respiratory illness. Having them back helped Arron Afflalo, who scored 12 of his 17 points in helping the Knicks open a big first-quarter lead that was never really threatened.
That gave the starters plenty of rest before they host Golden State on Sunday.
"They're a championship team, they really are," Porzingis said. "They're playing at an amazing level right now so it definitely won't be an easy game for us, but it's an opportunity."
Rookie Devin Booker scored 21 points for the Suns, who committed 16 turnovers and fell to 4-21 on the road. Their last road victory was Dec. 7 in Chicago.
"You've got no chance when you turn the ball over," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "I don't know, when I look at the turnovers they seem like basic plays we don't even complete. If you can't complete the basic plays, you're in for some long nights."
The Knicks raced to an 18-point lead in the first quarter and took a 58-40 advantage into halftime when Sasha Vujacic beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer. New York went ahead by 26 in the third and Anthony sat out the final period, perhaps all that kept him from a third career triple-double.
"I think he's doing an excellent job of getting his teammates involved," Suns and former Knicks centre Tyson Chandler said. "It looks like he has a better grasp of the offence. The team has a better grasp of the offence in general, a lot more fluent. He's having a great year."
Suns: F Jon Leuer returned after missing five games with lower back spasms. He was scoreless in 12 minutes. ... After Sunday's game in Dallas, the Suns won't have to worry about their road woes for a while. They begin a seven-game homestand Tuesday against Toronto and won't be back on the road until Feb. 22 at the Clippers. It's the second longest homestand in franchise history.
Knicks: Starting point guard Jose Calderon missed his second straight game with a sore right groin. Langston Galloway started and scored 11 points. ... The Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak against the Suns and regained the series lead at 61-60. The Suns haven't led the series since winning the first meeting on Oct. 24, 1968.
Both teams signed players from the NBA Development League to 10-day contracts on Friday. The Knicks called up Thanasis Antetokounmpo, whose brother Giannis plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, from Westchester. Phoenix signed Jordan McRae, who set a D-League record by scoring 61 points for Delaware against Canton on Tuesday night. Antetokounmpo made his NBA debut in the final minutes and made his lone shot, while McRae scored 12 points.
While the Suns stumble, Isaiah Thomas was chosen an All-Star by Eastern Conference coaches, about a year after the Suns traded him to Boston. The Suns broke up their logjam at point guard before last year's deadline by dealing Goran Dragic to Miami and Thomas to Boston, with Hornacek saying they chose to keep Eric Bledsoe for defensive reasons. They had only acquired Thomas, a former No. 60 overall pick, the previous summer from Sacramento.
"You're happy for guys when they go on if they play well," Hornacek said. "He played well for us, he played well for Sacramento, so it's not surprising."
Suns: Visit Dallas on Sunday.
Knicks: Host Golden State on Sunday.