Knicks vs. Wizards final score: John Wall leads Wizards to 102-91 win
The Knicks were no match for the soaring Wizards.
The Wizards predictably walloped the New York Knicks on the first game of the NBA’s Christmas slate, 102-91. The most exciting thing the match up had going for it was John Wall getting a chance to showcase his abilities to a national audience. He didn’t disappoint, finishing the game with 24 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. Carmelo Anthony had 34 points in the losing effort. The Wizards logged their 2th0 win of the season, a valuable victory that keeps them in third place on the suddenly extremely competitive East.
This year’s entrée was supposed to be a match up between two Eastern playoffs teams. The Knicks couldn’t hold on to their end of the bargain, as they have floundered out of the gates under first-time coach Derek Fisher. An early season injury to Jose Calderon — who was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks — made the transition to the triangle offense even tougher than it always tends to be. That was a death blow for a team that needed to outscore opponents to have a shot at making up for an atrocious defense. As a result, the Knicks were the second worst team in the East, behind the tanking 76ers, with a 5-25 record coming into this game.
Those flaws were on display against the Wizards, despite Anthony doing his best to keep things competitive early. Anthony had 21 points over the first two quarters and single-handedly provided the offense with enough juice to prevent his team from getting embarrassed by a Wizards’ attack that completely exposed the Knicks’ porous defense. Washington went into the break up 16, 60-44 after shooting a ridiculous 61.9 percent from the floor. Wall had his way with whoever New York put in front of him, scoring 11 points in seven shots to go with eight first-half assists, including this gem:
Not much changed in the second half. The Wizards had a big enough lead to be able to manage their effort. Whenever the Knicks cut the deficit, Washington responded, often led by Wall. Anthony had a down quarter so Calderon had to pick up the slack in the scoring department but no role player stepped up to provide a tertiary scoring option. The Knicks outscored the Wizards by two points in the third and went on a run to start the final period against the Washington’s bench but the outcome of the game was never in question.
Things got chippy following a scuffle between Wall and Quincy Acy that ended with Acy ejected after he threw a punch that didn’t land.
Immediately following the incident the Wizards got back on track, answered to the Knicks’ run and led by double digits the rest of the way.
Washington is now 20-8 for the season while the Knicks fall to 5-26.
3 other things we learned
The light at the end makes the tunnel less dark for Knicks fans. It’s hard to endure plays like this often without losing at least a little bit of hope:
But Knicks fans have been through worst and they know New York will go into next season with a top five draft pick, ample cap space to lure a big time free agent, Anthony and a few competent role players. There’s even some youth around for the first time in a long time in the form of Tim Hardaway Jr., Shane Larking and even Thanasis Antetokoumnpo. The future will be bright, which makes watching Samuel Dalembert play basketball a lot easier to tolerate.
John Wall has arrived. Wall is having his best year as a pro, leading the league in assists per game, orchestrating the offense for one of the best teams in the league and setting the tone for a great defensive teams by guarding the point of attack with ferocity. He’s also a highlight machine thanks to his speed, jumping ability and body control:
The public perception of him is finally changing and he’s starting to get the credit he deserves. He’s leading all Eastern guards in All-Star votes. Games like the one he had against the Knicks on national television will let any NBA fan that’s just tunning in for the season that there is one more elite point guard in the league.
The Wizards are a legitimate contender. The East is, for the first time in years, wide open. There are five teams that could realistically win the conference: the Raptors, the Hawks, the the Bulls, the Cavaliers and yes, the Wizards. Washington is only 1-4 against the other East powers so far, which doesn’t bode well for their chances. But the team is still evolving and if they manage to get to the playoffs with every key player healthy — not an easy task, especially with the fragile Nene in tow — they could easily beat anyone in the conference in a seven-game series.