The New York Knicks traveled to Washington down two star players, with Amare Stoudemire in mourning and Carmelo Anthony on the injury report. The Wizards were coming off a Monday home win, and despite injuries to veterans Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis were playing some of their most inspired basketball of the season.
In the teams’ last tilt, Stoudemire and Anthony combined to score 60 points in leading New York to a comeback victory. This time, it was Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak sparking the Knicks to a 107-93 win after trailing by as many as eight in the second quarter.
Lin had 23 points and 10 assists, Tyson Chandler added 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Novak was 5-for-9 from three point land in spot duty as the Knicks won their third straight. Lin also showcased an impressive fan following at the Verizon Center, drawing raucous cheers from the crowd all evening.
“This game boiled down to containment,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman started in his post-game offerings. “We couldn’t contain the basketball I thought all night long. Whether it was in pick-and-rolls or balls kicked out and were recovered they were blowing by us to the basket.”
John Wall had 29 points and six assists, and Trevor Booker had 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting as the Wizards were again denied their first consecutive victories of the season.
As in their last match-up with the Knicks the Wizards played well in the first quarter, and with the game tied early Washington went on an 8-0 run to build a 19-11 lead. Wall pushed the pace on offense and the team played active help defense—two traits that have become central to the team’s developing identity.
Trevor Booker also continued his solid play in the first quarter, scoring six points on 3-for-4 shooting. Wall had five, and the team ended the first with a 23-17 lead.
Maurice Evans, who has been getting his first consistent minutes of the season, continued the defensive intensity by taking a charge minutes into the second quarter. His first three pointer of the year gave the Wizards a 26-19 lead.
Then the Knicks went on a 18-7 run, capped by a Novak three pointer with just over six minutes remaining in the half.
Wall and Lin traded layups, with the second for Wall resulting in a three point play that brought the Wizards to within two. But Novak hit two three pointers in a two minute stretch to help New York to a 47-38 lead.
Washington was able to piece together a few pesky defensive sequences, and though one still resulted in a banked fall-away by Lin, the Wizards were able to claw back to a 52-46 halftime deficit.
The Knicks has 12 first half assists to the Wizards five, and connected on six of their 17 three pointers.
Wall had two quick steals in the first 90 seconds of the second half, appearing determined to will the Wizards to a win. The first steal ended with a missed Chris Singleton layup, so the second saw Wall driving to the hoop and getting his second and-one of the contest.
The play clearly energized the Wizards, and a subsequent Nick Young jumper and hook shot from JaVale McGee allowed them to knot the score at 54. After the teams traded misses, Wall hit a smooth jump shot and gave the Wizards their first lead of the half.
Then the whistles started blowing.
The Wizards were called for fouls on three consecutive defensive possessions, resulting in four Knick points from the line and McGee on the team’s bench.
Trying to stem the rising tide, Trevor Booker put an array of moves on Tyson Chandler for an easy layup. And when Wall turned a defensive rebound into a rim rattling dunk in transition the Wizards appeared to shake off the calls in taking a 60-58 lead.
But the Knicks would shoot nine more free throws on their next five possessions—with Landry Fields going 2-for-5, Novak 2-for-2 and Lin 2-for-2. Washington, meanwhile, was forced into difficult shots on the other end.
“I wish I could argue a lot of those calls,” Wittman siad, “but a lot of the calls were fouls.” The Knicks were 26-for-33 from the line on the night, while the Wizards shot 15-for-19.
A Lin layup gave New York a 70-64 lead with just over three minutes to go in the third. As he’d done all night, Wall took it right back at the Knicks and got to the line. But his two free throws were immediately negated on the other end, where Lin found no resistance driving to the rim and threw home a powerful dunk.
The Knicks led by as much as twelve early in the fourth quarter, as the Wizards struggled to rebound on defense and made costly turnovers on offense. Good defensive sequences turned into frustrating second chance points, and their inability to get a shot off on the other end made the back-and-forth even more demoralizing.
New York extended its lead to 94-80 on another Fields dunk with just over five minutes left, and the Wizards didn’t put up much of a fight the rest of the way, with the lead swelling to as much as 18 before the final buzzer sounded.
Despite catching the Knicks with their headliners missing, the Washington will see plenty of star power in town as they host the Miami Heat on Friday.