The Knicks, who will also face San Antonio and Oklahoma City on what figures to be a very tough trek, dropped their third in a row on Monday in Madison Square Garden when Vince Carter hit five of Phoenix's 11 three-pointers and ended with 29 points and 12 rebounds, pacing the Suns over New York, 129-121, in a Martin Luther King Day matinee.
Amare Stoudemire continued his stellar season, scoring a season-high 41 points against his former team, but it wasn't enough for a Knicks club that has dropped four of five overall. Stoudemire has now scored at least 20 points in 25 consecutive games, the most in Knicks history since Patrick Ewing did it in 28 straight contests from January 25-March 27, 1990.
Wilson Chandler added 23 points in defeat for New York while Danilo Gallinari had 17 points in his return to the lineup after missing six games with a sprained left knee.
"We had a little bit of a mental letdown," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni admitted. "This should definitely be a wake up call."
The Knicks, who have dropped five of their past seven at home, are 12-9 overall away from the Big Apple this season.
The Rockets, meanwhile, will be shooting for their third straight win tonight.
Most recently Kevin Martin scored a game-high 36 points to pace Houston over the Milwaukee Bucks, 93-84, in the opener of a brief two-game homestand on Monday.
Luis Scola added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, who had allowed at least 100 points in each of their previous 11 games. Jordan Hill chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds for the victors, who improved to 11-9 at Toyota Center.
"It's a weird game. You get 35 points in one quarter and then the rest of the time you struggle," Rockets head coach Rick Adelman said.
Houston, which will be attempting to sweep its home-and-home series with the Knicks tonight for the fifth time in six years, has won five straight over New York in Space City.
For more on the Rockets, check out The Dream Shake.