Written by William Lee
John Wall dominated the first half, scoring in double figures in the first quarter alone. John Wall is one of the quickest point guards in the league, and he displayed it Monday night. Wall attacked in the open court, scoring either for himself or getting his teammates involved for 16 first half fast break points. John Wall had 19 points and 5 assist by halftime, and got plenty of help from Martell Webster, as he dropped four threes to compliment Wall penetrating attack into the paint. Martell Webster would fall a couple points of reaching his career high in points, finishing the game with 30 points.
The Knicks could not stop the Wizards, allowing 55.6% field goal, and getting scorched from beyond the arc, for seven three point shots in the first half. The Wizards kept the Knicks in the game, by turning the ball over frequently, with ten turnovers alone just in the second quarter. The extra possessions were much needed for New York, as the Knicks shoot a dismal 31.9% from the field, and was not able to collect much offensive rebounds off so many misses, only collecting five from 32 misses.
The Knicks were in reaching distance from the Wizards, but finished the first half very poorly, getting dominated by John Wall, allowing him to go on a personal 9-2 against the Knicks in the final minutes. The run was highlighted by an and-one pull up jump shot to close the second quarter, pushing the Wizards lead back to double digits, 53-42. The Knicks cannot defend against quick guards that is skilled at penetrating into the paint, the Knicks needs to build a wall, to encourage a jump shot, but what we see more often than not instead is Pablo Prigioni attempting to steal the ball. When he fails, which is highly likely, it allows these quick guards to get ahead of steam, and get right to the rim.
The Madison Square Garden crowd started to boo their hometown heroes as they lack effort coming out of the first half, getting down by 15 points early in the third quarter. JR Smith would ignite a 20-5 run by connecting on consecutive threes, and then Carmelo Anthony and surprisingly Beno Udrih carried the Knicks back into the game, tying the game up with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter at 64-64. The Knicks would eventually take a 77-75 lead heading into the fourth quarter, after scoring just 42 points in the first half, the Knicks scored 35 points in the third quarter. New York converted on 68.4% of its field goals in the third quarter, with Anthony leading the way with 13 points in the period. The third quarter though would not be all good news, with 9:49 in the third quarter Pablo Prigioni was substituted out of the game, never returning, it would be later announced that he suffered a hairline fracture on his right big toe. Surgery would not be required, but he is expected to miss at least two weeks, with starting point guard Raymond Felton already out because of sore left hamstring, this spells big troubles for the already injury plagued Knicks going forward.
The Wizards would retake the lead, going on an 11-2 Washington run early in the fourth quarter, to take a 92-85 lead with 5:53 left in the game. The Knicks from this point would go on a run of their own, going on a 13-2 run, highlighted by a couple more JR Smith threes, to take a four point lead 98-94 with 2:17 left in the game. Bradly Beal who dominated the fourth quarter would answer with a three of his own, to trim the Knicks’ lead to one. Then on the next possession Beal would sacrifice his body, getting in front of Andrea Bargnani, taking a charge to give the ball back to the Wizards. With the Knicks defense focused on John Wall, Wall got blocked, and air balled a three in a couple of possessions, Beal came to Washington’s rescue knocking down another three to tie the game up at 100-100 with 45.1 seconds remaining in the game. Beno Udrih would drove the paint and get fouled with 24.5 seconds remaining in the game, he split the free throws, giving Knicks only a one point lead.
The final possessions will be heavily debated on sports talk show radio, as Beno Udrih was isolated on the perimeter against Bradley Beal, which is questionable as to why he is even on the court for one last defensive stop. There should have been a defensive specialist on the floor instead of Udrih, who also looked fatigued, playing the whole fourth quarter, and getting only two minutes of rest in the third quarter, after Pablo exited the game from his injury. Another factor was that the Knicks also had a foul to give, with the Wizards starting their possession with 24.2 remaining out of a timeout. This foul was never used, as Beal made his move towards the basket, attacked Udrih on the baseline and got a layup to go ahead 102-101. Beal left plenty of time for New York to score, with 6.9 seconds remaining, and the Knicks still had timeouts to call to advance the ball to half court. But the timeout was never called, there looked to be confusion with no timeout being called, and the ball was inbounded to Carmelo Anthony, who walked up the ball and took a three with two Wizards draped all over him. The shot was badly missed, this was a heartbreaking loss, with such a hard fought game, and to not even give ourselves a real opportunity to win…is just very disappointing.