Similar to Friday night, this was also a special night for the Wizards franchise as they honored the 1978 title winning team. It was their 40th anniversary and a very nice program was put on during halftime. Like Friday, Washington again came up short at home. They fell to the New York Knicks 101-97, which means they’ve now lost eight of their last 12 games. A short while ago they were in third, after this loss they sit at sixth, just a game above the Milwaukee Bucks. If the playoffs started today, Washington would be squaring off with Cleveland.
Former Washington guard Trey Burke led all scorers with 19 points, the Knicks had eight of the 10 players that received minutes score in double-digits. That’s an indictment on the Wizards defense, which wasn’t horrible for the entire night, but they were nowhere to be found in the second quarter. The Knicks used a 42-point effort to take control of the game in that period. New York’s bench played a big role in this game, often extending leads and at times, creating them. Washington had a rough night on the offensive end, shooting just 42% from the floor and 31% from beyond the arc. They were led by Bradley Beal’s 14 points, but he struggled from the floor, going 5-of-17. Porter and Morris had 13 a piece, Tomas Satoransky missed out on a double-double by one point (9 points, 10 assists). The Wizards did get production from their bench, but the offensive struggles didn’t just involve the starters. Both teams turned the ball over 14 times, so there wasn’t a clear edge there, for Washington it was the wasted offensive possessions.
Defense has been in question for Washington as of late, they got off to a good start against the Knicks though. Despite shooting poorly themselves, Washington surrendered just 19 points in the first period. They got over shooting 40% from the field by playing with a sense of urgency on the defensive end of the floor. Markieff led the way offensively wih six points, Washington also got nine points from their bench. One of the areas in which the Knicks did well was scoring in the paint, 12 of their 19 points came inside.
While the Wizards shot a little bit better in the second period, literally less than a full percentage better, they fell behind. New York continued to have success inside, scoring 16 points in the paint. The difference being that they found better shots from outside and knocked them down, the Knicks shot 62% from beyond the arc and got to the line seven times. Mudiay did a good job of pressuring he ball, wice picking the pockets of Ramon Sessions which resulted in easy transition baskets for Troy Williams. The Knicks got 22 points from their bench by way of Luke Kornet, Williams and Mudiay. The Wizards struggled to put quality offensive possessions together consistently, that allowed New York to get out in transition and generate better looks than they had in the first period. Their inability to generate a rhythm offensively definiely hurt them, the notcicable change in the urgency in which they were defending also had something to do with the Wizards finding themselves down by eight at the half. Both Trey Burke and Mudiay had no issue penetrating, they got in the lane as they pleased and put pressure on Washington’s defense. The Knicks penetration played a huge role in their 42 point quarter, allowing them to take control of the game, they led 61-53 at the half.
It’s clear the scouting report has changed on how opposing teams deal with Washington on the defensive end during this time Wall’s been out. They’re not letting Satoransky get downhill as much as he likes and that stalls the Wizards offense a bit. They’re also doubling Beal more often, at first was a quick double to get the ball out of his hands and now it’s just a full on double team whenever he’s near the corner or even high out on the wing. It’s even affected Oubre a bit, there’s not as much room for those corner threes as teams are aggressively closing out. Forcing him to put the ball on the floor for more than a straight line drive plays to the defense. The Wizards lack a player with the ability to break down the defense consistently and it’s put an added stress on their defense with the offense struggling. Still, they are getting some quality looks, but they’ve failed to capitalize. The lack of urgency on the defensive end has taken away a big chunk of their offense, points in transition.
The offensive woes for the Wizards continued in the third period, but their defense stepped up. Giving them an opportunity to not only close the gap between them and the Knicks on the scoreboard, but take the lead. Washington held New York to just 30% shooting from the floor, a far cry from the 68% the Knicks shot in the second quarter. Still, Washington couldn’t take advantage of the work they put in on the defensive end of the floor. Several possessions were wasted, resulting in bad shots or turnovers. Otto Porter had an aggressive quarter, that assertiveness resulted in eight points. The Wizards cut the 10 point deficit to jus two with 5:14 left in the period. They had gotten a stop and Satoransky found Morris atop the circle, he stepped into a wide open three pointer and drilled it. That capped off a 9-0 Wizards run, but Burke responded with a tough pull up jumper to extend New York’s lead to four. A few possessions later Washingon again cut it back to two, but followed up a stop with back-to-back turnovers. The Knicks pushed the lead back to six to close the quarter by way of a Mudiay layup.
Oubre set the tone to start the fourth, starting things off with a dunk that got the crowd into it. Tomas got a steal a possession later and passed the ball to Mike Scott, he couldn’t convert in transition and Oubre followed it up with a thunderous dunk. That cut the deficit to three, from there the teams would trade baskets and missed shots. The Wizards cut it to tone after Satoransky got another steal, this time he kept it and threw it down. Courtney Lee had been pretty quiet, but the vet stepped up for his team when they were on their heels. On the ensuing possession he used a pump fake to evade the Wizard player trying to close out, he then stepped into and nailed a 17 foot shot. Again the Wizards turned it over at an inopportune time and Burke hit a soft floater to extend the lead to five.
Washington responded with a quick 5-0 run, Satoransky hit a floater and Otto found Brad for a big triple. Lee again delivered for the Knicks, Morris tied it at 90 with a shot in the paint. Lee extended the lead to four, first he scored off a drive, then he drove and dumped he ball off to Beasley for a slam. The next Wizards felt a bit rushed, Beal got the ball on the wing and attempted a three pointer, but it didn’t look or seem as if it was in rhythm. Porter made up for it by stealing a pass from Beasley, Otto took it all the way in transition, but missed. Again, Oubre was there to follow the shot. Kelly got the rebound and then went back up, finishing through contact. He drew the foul and went to the line where he made the free throw, that cut the deficit to one. One stop later, Markieff hits a very tough fallaway to give Washington a one point lead with 1:08 left in the game.
Holding a one point lead with about 46 seconds left in the game, with the ball and time left on the shot clock, the ball finds it’s way to Oubre in the corner. He likes that shot and takes it routinely, the issue was on this night, he had yet to hit a three in six attempts. Without hesitating, he took the shot that he normally takes, but it fell short. A long shot often leads to a long rebound and Trey Burke was off to the races. To compound things, Kelly fouled Burke in transition, but didn’t wrap up his arms or hands. The former Wizards guard hit the lay up and the ensuing free throw. By completing that and-1 opportunity, the Knicks held a two point lead with 35 seconds left. Washington calls a timeout, on their ensuing possession Beal takes a tough shot. Gortat is back in the game and he got free to rebound the ball and go back up, dunk it, or tip it back in. He opted for the tip in, but it didn’t drop. The ball again winds up in Burke’s hands, he’s fouled and goes to the line. This time he splits the pair, leaving Washington 17.7 seconds with a three point deficit. The Wizards scored on a Beal drive, there was contact, but no call was made. Washington tries to trap Burke on the inbound, but he gets the ball up court and Lee is fouled. The veteran guard knocks down both shots from the line, extending the New York lead to three. The Knicks did something very few teams do when leading by three, they fouled on the next possession versus letting Washington attempt a shot from deep. Porter was the player they fouled, he missed the first free throw, which meant he had to intentionally miss the second in the hopes of one of his teammates getting the offensive rebound. The shot came off the rim and it looked as if Gortat got a hand on it and tried to shovel it to Porter for a three pointer, Lance Thomas collected the errant ball and was immediately fouled. He split the pair, but the damage was done as making one free throw made it a two possession game.