The longest game in the history of Madison Square Garden lasted 63 heart-stopping minutes and included more favorable whistles than any one team should get.
But for the Knicks, down in both the standings and in the morale department, all that mattered was that they managed to survive against a playoff-caliber team and started 2006 by doing something they didn't do enough of in 2005.
"It was a huge win for us because there haven't been a lot of opportunities for us to smile," Larry Brown said after the Knicks' 140-133 triple-overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday. "I could see that it meant a lot to them."
The Knicks improved to 8-21 and managed to rise above the turmoil that is festering in the locker room. Before the game, the Knicks announced that backup center Jerome James has been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.
Also, after Trevor Ariza learned from a team official that Brown had told the media that he had been beaten out of the rotation by David Lee and Qyntel Woods, the backup small forward admitted that the coach's rotation has everyone "confused."
Brown, however, stuck to his promise of a tighter rotation that included Lee, a rookie, getting a start and playing 52 minutes. And Lee made the most of it by converting 10 of 11 shots while establishing season highs in points (23) and rebounds (15).
Meanwhile, the road-weary Suns were forced to conclude their five-game trip with players they seemingly picked off the street. They stuck around until early in the final OT, when Stephon Marbury finally reappeared and scored seven of his 32 points. Jamal Crawford added 29 overall and Eddy Curry, who tied the game in regulation by hitting two free throws with 8.4 seconds left after a questionable foul call, scored 13 of his 20 in the overtimes.
Steve Nash, the reigning MVP, put on a dazzling display for Phoenix with 28 points and 22 assists. Shawn Marion added 39 points and 14 rebounds in 60 minutes as he and Nash were the only two Phoenix starters who didn't foul out.
Overall, Phoenix was called for 41 fouls compared to 27 for the Knicks. Brown's team also attempted 54 free throws, making 32, while Phoenix went 14-for-16 from the line and left New York feeling like they were in an Oliver Stone movie.
"When you foul out your whole team and you have the rest of the guys running on fumes after a nine-day road trip, for us just to hang around at that point is outstanding," Nash said.
Nash had a chance to win the game in regulation but missed a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer.
In other NBA action: Indiana 115, Seattle 96; Milwaukee 93, Chicago 92; New Orleans 103, Charlotte 86; Denver 120, Boston 110.