Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
The New York Knicks dominant preseason run came to a screeching halt as the Washington Wizards handed them a 110-98 loss at Madison Square Garden.
John Wall (20 points) and Bradley Beal (14 points) combined to score 34 points. Jeff Green contributed 16 points, and all five Wizards starters had a +/- over 19 points.
Tonight was a rough night for the Knicks on offense and defense.
Offensively, the Knicks forgot their identity and didn’t emphasize ball movement. At times, the Knicks settled for too many jumpers instead of driving to the basket to create. Also, the Wizards intensity on defense made matters worse for a Knicks team struggling for ideas to score the ball.
Throughout training camp, David Fizdale worked on embedding a defensive mentality into his team, but the Knicks were bereft of that mentality through most of the game. The players were slow on rotations, and if the Wizards could have knocked down their open threes, the score would have been much worse.
The basketball gods shunned the Knicks, and much to the fans’ chagrin, the Knicks of old reared its ugly head.
The Wizards came out the gate with all guns blazing. Quickly, the Knicks found themselves down by 11 after the end of the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, the Knicks began to show some life, and Frank Ntilikina nailed a 3-pointer to cap off a 13-3 run to bring the Knicks within three. Unfortunately, that’s as close as the Knicks would get.
After Ntilikina’s basket, Beal ended the run with a layup, and later, Green made a 3-pointer to push the Wizards lead back up to six. At halftime, the Knicks trailed 52-44.
In the third quarter, it was more of the same as the Wizards began to pour on the pressure. The Knicks have been a stellar third-quarter team, outscoring their opponents by a combined 21 points, but tonight that wasn’t the case.
Green wowed the crowd when he euro-stepped past Trey Burke and threw down a nasty dunk on Allonzo Trier. That basket gave the Wizards a 22-point lead, their largest lead of the game. The Wizards outscored the Knicks by 11 points and led 88-69 at the end of three quarters.
The Knicks showed some fight late in the fourth due to the heroics of Trier, but the Wizards built too large of a cushion for the Knicks to come back.
Despite the loss, there are three positives to take from the game.
Ntilikina was aggressive on offense.
One of the knocks on Ntilikina has been his passive nature on offense. Tonight, he showed the ability to look for his shot and drive aggressively to the rim when the opportunity presented itself. He finished the game with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Tim Hardaway Jr seemed to wake up from his shooting slumber.
Hardaway Jr’s shooting and shot selection have been below par, but he corrected that issue against the Wizards. Besides taking one ill-advised three, his shot selection was good for the most part. He co-led the Knicks with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
Trier continues to show why he deserves a roster spot on the Knicks.
His play in the fourth helped bring the Knicks back into the game. He finished with 18 points and four assists.
The Knicks are a young team and games like this are to be expected from time to time throughout the season. Regardless of the result, it’s clear that Fizdale has the team on the right track.