The fire was there from the Knicks rookies, but the execution faltered in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards, who snapped their five-game losing streak behind 26 points from John Wall to hand New York a 108-95 defeat on the road.
As I stated in my Dallas game recap, I viewed this as a trap game. The Wizards were motivated after getting booed off the court in their last defeat. Although Allonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson took the fight right to the Wizards, particularly Wall and Dwight Howard, this game showed the value of having All-Star level talent in crunch time.
SECOND HALF FIGHT: The first half was mostly fought on even terms with the Knicks trailing 50-58 at halftime. The third quarter started rough and the Wiz jumped out to a 13-point lead. The Knicks then powered back behind a 14-4 run powered by the efforts of Trier (9 pts), Robinson (10pts, 6 rebs) and Enes Kanter (18 pts, 12 rebs).
We got to see the fire in our rookies as Trier jawed with Wall after a hard foul and later forced him into a dribbling turnover, prompting cheers from Coach Fizdale. Robinson and Howard exchanged dunks on each other with each being liberal with shoves and elbows (Robinson later earned a tech for his mouth).
Early in the fourth, the Knicks’s were finally able to tie the game at 86 just in time for the starters to get back in.
THE COLLAPSE: Unfortunately for New York, everything fell apart. Tim Hardaway Jr., hobbled by a back injury on an earlier hard foul, couldn’t muster anything and had a quiet night of 7 points in 24 minutes. Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina combined for 9 turnovers. This gave Wall plenty of fast-break opportunities combined with his three-point shot falling (3/6). Add Bradley Beal chipping in 22 points and you had a hill too big for the young Knicks to overcome.
SLOPPY BALL-HANDLING: The Knicks committed a season-high 20 turnovers and shot only 19% from three. The turnovers and being held under 100 points was particularly humbling as the Wizards came into last night the league’s worst-ranked defensive team.
BEAL PRAISES TRIER: The league is starting to take notice of our rookies. Bradley Beal had this to say about Trier’s focus and potential.
The Knicks won’t have long to lick their wounds as they’re back in action Monday night against the Bulls. Closing thoughts:
- Kevin Knox feels he’s ready to return after being sidelined seven games due to an ankle injury. Fizdale is more cautious, wanting to see him in 5 on 5 practice drills first. I’m thinking we won’t see him until the end of this week at the earliest.
- Courtney Lee’s neck has not improved. I’d be shocked if we see him before December.