Written by William Lee
The Washington Wizards quickly doubled up on the New York Knicks Friday night, leading 18-9 mid-way into the first quarter. After a much needed timeout, the Knicks responded with a 10-2 run to take the lead on a Carmelo Anthony jumper, up 20-19 with 2:43 remaining in the first quarter. Basketball is a game of runs, and after a Washington timeout, they would answer with a run of their own, ending the first quarter on a 7-2, to take a 27-21 lead.
New York’s started off the second quarter on a 15-4 run, playing suffocating defense, holding Washington scoreless for four minutes during the stretch. This gave New York a 36-31 lead with 5:31 left in the second quarter. The Knicks would continue to apply defensive pressure in the quarter, forcing the Wizards to 28.6% shooting in the period. New York outscored Washington 22-12 in the second quarter, leading by 43-39 at the half. J.R. Smith was huge for the Knicks, scoring 19 points in the first half, connecting on five money ball.
The Knicks and the Wizards would go back and forth in the third quarter, exchanging baskets. Amare Stoudemire at one points scored 12 straight points for New York, including a vicious slam dunk on Marcin Gortat to give the Knicks a 60-55 lead. Washington would regain the lead with John Wall aggressively attacking the paint on consecutive possessions, drawing free throws on the first possession, then getting into the lane for a dunk to help regain the lead for the Wizards 62-60. New York would answer, regaining the lead on J.R. Smith’s seventh three of the game. Then J.R. Smith would hit a fade away jumper to that was basically a buzzer beater for the third quarter, giving the Knicks a 67-64 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams exchanged baskets early in the fourth quarter, with the offense flowing nicely on both ends. With 6:20 Mike Woodson made a questionable decision, putting back in a struggling Carmelo Anthony into the game for a red hot Amare Stoudemire. This move not only disrupted the fluid continuity on offense for New York, it also left Anthony being the tallest Knicks defender…leaving no inside protection…with Anthony playing center. The Wizards immediately attacked the paint, with Bradley Beal getting into the paint for a reverse layup and-one, giving Washington an81-80 lead with 5:35 left in the game. Tyson Chandler was immediately inserted into the game for some rim protection, but for Tim Hardaway Jr. whom was providing spacing with his three point shooting ability.
J.R. Smith for all his excellence in the game took the typical J.R. Smith low percentage, poor shot selection shot, which then lead to a breakaway Bradley Beal dunk. Smith compounded the poor decision making with another mental error, fouling Beal giving him an and-one opportunity when he was clearly way too ahead to do anything about it. Beal sank the free throw giving Washington an 86-84 lead with a little over two minute remaining in the game. With the reinsertion of Anthony, it halted the offense, although Anthony did make a couple of clutch jump shots, he also collected his seventh, eighth, and ninth turnover of the game down the stretch. With the ninth being a terrible decision to throw a cross court pass, which was stolen by John Wall. Anthony was able to save his mistake by striping the ball, and knocking it off Wall’s leg. Anthony would again throw another cross court pass, this time reaching his target, Raymond Felton, who knocked down a huge three to give the Knicks a one point lead, 89-88 with 33.5 seconds left in the game.
Bradley Beal is becoming the new Ben Gordon, the new Knicks killer. Beal defeated the Knicks in the previous game, and even though everyone was paying attention to him, he still was able to get off a clean jumper to take a 90-89 lead with 22.9 seconds left in the game. New York would have their chance to win the game, but as Carmelo Anthony made his move towards the basket, Anthony bobbled the ball, feeling the defensive presence of Trevor Ariza, who did a great job of defending Anthony all night. The ball was tipped out to J.R. Smith who launched a 30 foot three-pointed even though there was still a couple of seconds left on the clock. The desperation pray were not answered, as New York fall 90-89 to the Washington Wizards. With how terrible Anthony looked Friday night, playing injured, was only able to score ten points on 5/14 shooting, and committing 9 turnovers, which amounted to the worst +/- in the game with a -13. With how bad Anthony looked … and how hot J.R. Smith was …shouldn’t Anthony have been a decoy… Smith finished the game with eight three-pointers! Why does Anthony have to take every game winning shot? Why can’t there be an actual play drawn up?
This was a critical loss because the Atlanta Hawks won Friday night, regaining the eighth Playoff spot, with New York schedule tougher than the Hawk’s.