It was definitely a wild one last night in the nation’s capital, the Washington Wizards hosted the New York Knicks. It was a fouled filled game as the officials are making an emphasis on limiting defenses from holding players both on the perimeter and when they’re cutting through the lane. The Knicks outlasted the Wizards 124-121 in a contest in which 83 fouls were called. New York played every member of their preseason roster at least six minutes in the win over the Washington. The Wizards weren’t much different as all but four of their players dressed for the game saw action.
Damyean Dotson led New York with 14 points, Kevin Knox had 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Wizards were led by Kelly Oubre’s 15 points, but Jordan McRae added 14 points.
It’d be irresponsible not to mention the technical fouls issued on the night or that Markieff Morris was ejected in this preseason bout. Washington gave John Wall just nine minutes of playing time, Beal logged the most of all the starters with 21 minutes.
Fighting through screens. This was an area in which there was much growth, many times last season specifically Wall and Beal stopped moving when getting hit by a screen. Obviously a small sample size, but they were very aggressive in rejecting the screen and staying with their defender. Austin Rivers also did a good job of this, it’ll be interesting to see if this can become a trend or staple over what was done last season out on the perimeter.
Emphasis on the triple. We were told by Scott Brooks several times that he wants his team to shoot more threes. That message was definitely received as the Wizards attempted 11 in the first quarter alone. For the game, Washington attempted 38 triples. After every training camp session the media was allowed to see (post practice shooting), the team’s bigs were outside going around the horn putting up shots. Ian Mahinmi attempted two three pointers tonight, knocking one of them down. Jason Smith attempted two and Thomas Bryant shot three of them.
Assertive Otto. Brooks mentioned this on media day, stating that Porter turned down too many opportunities to shoot last year. Again, small sample size as it’s just one game, but Otto didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger anytime he was open. He scored 13 points, including eight in the first quarter. His aggressiveness changes the way teams play Washington defensively, he makes them pay for shading attention over to their All-Star backcourt. So when he turns down those shots, it helps the defense.
Depth. As mentioned earlier with Wall playing just nine minutes, we got an opportunity to see how deep this roster is. The second unit offers a myriad of different lineup combinations. Rivers gives Washington something they haven’t had in a go-to scorer on that unit and an additional facilitator. It takes pressure off of Satoransky being the sole ball handler on that unit, Jeff Green’s versatility allows them to play him from the 3-thru-5 as well. With Rivers on the floor in Wall’s absence, it didn’t feel as bad as it did last year when Wall was out of the game.
“Knicks DNA” This is all about David Fizdale and his establishing a culture since he got the job. This Knicks team has a true grit about them already, they have that lunch pail-hard hat vibe and it’s still early. It will be something to keep an eye on as this roster is full of young talented guys that haven’t seized their previous opportunities. With Porzingis out, there will certainly be opportunities for others to step up.
Robinson/Knox. Fans may of not been enamored with these two selections on draft day, but the Knicks may have hit on both. It’s obviously very early but it isn’t hard to see that these two could play a pivotal role in helping turn this thing around. They’ll be able to really assist Kristaps once he returns. Robinson gives them the type of big they haven’t had in several years, his presence is felt on both ends of the floor. Whether it’s finishing above the rim or patrolling the paint, Mitchell showed flashes of what he can do for New York. Knox is known for his shooting stroke, but Fizdale challenged him on the defensive end and it showed as that fueled his offense. He grabbed 10 rebounds and in the third quarter, he really got going.
Wizards Youngsters. The trio of Troy Brown Jr, Devin Robinson, and Jordan McRae got an opportunity to log heavy minutes in the fourth quarter and in overtime. The first round pick didn’t shoot the ball well, but he showed several of his other skills that led to Washington selecting him where they did. He’s a natural playmaker and had a couple of passes that were highlight worthy even though they weren’t converted, he also hit the glass to the tune of seven rebounds. He’ll have to get stronger, but there’s definitely something there. Robinson was aggressive cutting and finishing, his nine points helped Washington erase late deficits a couple of times. McRae was the most assertive on that end of the floor, showing that he could score in a variety of ways and that he’s a willing passer. It will be fun to watch the development of these three this season.