Game Report 23: Wizards 102 Knicks 101
WELCOME BACK, BRADLEY BEAL!
THE GAME TURNED WHEN… There were so many turns in this game it is difficult to know which one to pick. First, the Knicks went on a 31-10 run in the third quarter to go from 15 points down early in the third quarter to up by six points late in the quarter and it looked like the Wizards were about to give up the game after giving up their big lead. However, the Wiz rallied behind Garrett Temple, playing for John Wall, Bradley Beal, Jan Vesely and Martell Webster and went on an 11-2 run to take a four point lead with 5:52 left in the fourth quarter. Then the Knicks went on a 13-2 run after John Wall re-entered the game and appeared ready to close the match out with 2:16 left in regulation. That’s when Bradley Beal happened.
After Wall turned the ball over with a bad pass and J.R. Smith responded by hitting a 3-pointer to put the Knicks up 98-94 with 2:20 left, it looked like the Wiz were cooked. However, after a quick 20-second timeout, the Wiz got the ball to Beal, who calmly sank a 25-footer to cut the lead to 98-97. Knicks center Andrea Bargnani drew a foul from Beal and hit two free throws, putting the Knicks up 100-97. Seconds later Bargnani blocked a short shot by an out-of-control John Wall driving into the lane. The Wiz retained possession, though, and when they sent the ball to Beal he drained a 26-footer to tie the game at 100.
The Knicks came back and Beno Udrih drew a foul from Wall, but could hit only one free throw, putting the Knicks up 101-100. That was all Bradley Beal needed. What followed was this…
THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN… With 24 seconds left and trailing 101-100, John Wall dribbled seconds away and then handed off to Bradley Beal on the left wing. Beal got a screen from Trevor Ariza and then broke toward the basket when no Knicks appeared to defend the paint. The layup put the Wiz up 102-101. Rather than call time out, the Knicks threw the ball in with six seconds left and cleared out for Carmelo Anthony to take a very low percentage 3-point shot with two Wizards defenders in front of him. The shot missed and Washington broke a 10-game losing streak in Madison Square Garden.
THE GOOD… The Wizards hit 54% of their shots from the field tonight, including 11-18 from behind the arc. You can thank Bradley Beal and Martell Webster for most of that.
The Wizards were great on the fast break tonight, pouring in 23 points in their early offense. Most of that was in the first half, though, when John Wall was running wild. When his game went south after halftime, Washington’s fast break mostly disappeared.
The Wiz hit the boards well tonight, out-rebounding the Knicks 41-35 and matched them with 21 assists.
Washington got 36 points from its bench, which is far better than usual. Of course, 30 of those 36 came from Martell Webster, who was a starter the last ten games.
THE BAD… This was probably Marcin Gortat‘s worst game as a Wiz. He missed 10 of 14 shots. However, he did grab 7 boards and dish 4 assists.
The Knicks enjoyed their home court advantage tonight, shooting 31 foul shots to only 17 for the Wizards.
THE UGLY… The Wizards could not close this game out in the first half due to turnovers. Washington finished with 19 turnovers — 7 by Wall — to only 9 for the Knicks. If you were wondering why the Wizards almost lost a game where they out-shot and out-rebounded the Knicks, turnovers would be the reason.
THE STUDS… Martell Webster, moving back to the bench with the return of Beal, led the Wizards with 30 points, hitting 9-13 shots and 6-8 on 3-pointers. He also hit 6-7 from the FT line, grabbed 5 boards, dished 3 assists and didn’t turn the ball over in 36 minutes. Washington was +10 with Webster on the floor. That, ladies and gentlemen, is one helluva basketball game.
John Wall [first half] led the Wizards with 19 points in the first half, adding five assists. He shot well and constantly got the Wizards out on the break, where he either finished himself or dished to an open teammate for an easy or uncontested layup, dunk or shot. Unfortunately, all that ended after halftime.
Bradley Beal wasn’t hot the whole game, but he was hot when it counted, making six of his last seven shots and taking over the game in the fourth quarter. His timely 3-pointers in the last two minutes and that so-beautiful-it-hurt-my-eyes drive to the hoop for the easy layup and the winning points are what clinched the win for Washington. Beal hit 9-16 shots for 21 points, 14 of them in the fourth quarter.
THE DUDS… John Wall in the second half makes this list. Wall finished with seven turnovers and the team struggled mightily when he re-entered the game with just over 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The truth is, Garrett Temple out-played Wall in the fourth quarter and should have stayed in the game. However, Wall is paid like the franchise player and Temple is basically a nobody so almost any coach would have done what Randy Wittman did — take out a guy who was playing well for a guy who did very poorly because the guy who did very poorly earns a ton of money.
THE BENCHWARMERS… Otto Porter, Jr., Chris Singleton, Glenn Rice, Jr., and Eric Maynor didn’t play. I’m starting to wonder who convinced Porter to enter the NBA Draft.
THE WOUNDED… Forwards Nene Hilario and Al Harrington missed the game with injury.
THE QUOTES… “It was a helluva game…. It was just kind of a slugfest the last three or four minutes. J.R. hit some big shots. Brad hit some big shots. Martell played huge… Brad made a helluva decision [to drive to the hoop on the final play].” — Wizards coach Randy Wittman.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS… The Wizards broke a 4-game losing streak this season and a 10-game losing streak in the Garden. And they did it without Nene. What they did have, though, was a health Bradley Beal playing for the first time this month. It’s a huge addition for the team, as Beal proved in the fourth quarter, which he made his own. Washington is now 10-13 and 4-8 on the road. With Beal back, though, it’s only a matter of time before the Wizards go on another win streak, especially if they can get Nene back soon and keep him healthy for a while. The re-addition of Beal means the Wiz can move Webster back to the bench, where he thrived tonight with 30 points in 36 minutes. It doesn’t necessarily mean a big drop in minutes for Martell — he will play a lot as long as he’s playing well. It just means the Wizards have most of their strong rotation back and the offense won’t necessarily grind to a halt when two or more starters head to the bench. It’s kind of a big deal.