The New York Knicks came to the Verizon Center tonight riding a five game winning streak and featuring a 31-15 record, second only to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. None of that mattered when the Knicks ran into John Wall, who led the Wizards to a 106-96 victory, improving the Wiz kids to 13-35. The win was Washington's 6th in its last 7 home games. The Wizards now have five wins against division leading teams this season.
"I'd like to play our best against everyone," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said after the game.
Wall scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, adding 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 6 turnovers. His +21 court ratio topped all players on the night.
The Wizards hit their first 7 shots and ran out to a 16-5 lead early in the first quarter. However, the Knicks fought back, led by All Star Carmelo Anthony and his 31 points and Washington led by only 3, 51-48, at halftime. The Knicks outscored the Wiz 25-19 in the third quarter, giving them a 3-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
That lead was wiped out, however, when Trevor Ariza, who played 33 minutes off the bench, led off the fourth quarter with a 3-point shot and got fouled on the play. Ariza made the free throw, giving Washington a 74-73 lead. Ariza wasn't done, however. With 8:36 left in regulation he nailed another 3-pointer, extending Washington's lead to 88-80.
That's when John Wall took over. Wall had 10 points and 3 assists in the fourth quarter, leading the Wizards to a 36-23 domination in the final period. Joining Wall were five other players who scored in double figures, marking the fourth time this season the Wiz have had six players score in double figures in a game.
With Bradley Beal still injured and Jordan Crawford still in the doghouse for his selfish play, Wittman shuffled his rotation around, moving Martell Webster into the shooting guard role behind starter Garrett Temple. This put Trevor Ariza, Webster and John Wall on the floor together for significant periods of time in the game and the combination proved very effective. Webster scored 19 points on 6-11 shooting and 5-9 on 3-pointers in a team-high 42 minutes. Ariza scored 20 points on 7-11 shooting, including 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, adding 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
The Wizards also got plenty of help from their starting big men, with Nene scoring 13 points on 6-9 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds. Emeka Okafor hit 6-11 shots for 12 points and 7 boards in only 25 minutes. Off the bench, Chris Singleton got out of the doghouse and into the game, scoring 10 points on 4-5 shooting and pulling down 3 rebounds.
As a team, the Wiz badly outshot the Knicks, hitting 53% from the field compared to 40% for New York. Washington also hit 11 of 20 from behind the arc, good for 55 percent. Washington's ball movement also helped, with the Wiz racking up 23 assists, compared to only 14 for the Knicks.
The Wizards play next on Friday when the Brooklyn Nets come to town.