For weeks, the Wizards have wondered how they'd respond to playing from behind. Their history this season is to fold when down big, but they took another step in the right direction Saturday by erasing an 18-point deficit to thump the New York Knicks 99-89 and win the season series 2-1.
The last time they met at Verizon Center, Carmelo Anthony had his way with 37 points (still a season-high) as the Knicks handed the Wizards their first loss of the season 117-110. They switched up on him and held Anthony (20 points) in check. Kristaps Porzingis (20 points) led a fourth-quarter rally that fell short in front of Washington's 11th sellout of the season of 20,356 and it now has won four games in a row.
John Wall (24 points, 10 assists, 1 turnover) had his 42nd double-double of the season followed by Markieff Morris (17 points, three steals), Marcin Gortat (15 points, 11 rebounds), Otto Porter (15 points, six rebounds) and Bradley Beal (10 points).
The Wizards (34-35), who were coming off a sluggish finish in Thursday's 99-94 win at the Philadelphia 76ers when Wall had nine turnovers, weren't sharp to begin this one but made their move just before halftime to trim the deficit to 53-43.
- The ball pressure in the second half was fantastic. The Wizards have a significant advantage with Wall and Beal vs. Jose Calderon (10 points) and Sasha Vujacic (0 points). But also with Garrett Temple (five points, seven rebounds) who frustrated Arron Afflalo (3 of 10), who was short on backdowns in the midpost. When Afflalo got around Temple for what he thought was a clean look on a pullup, Temple blocked it from behind. That came after Temple, who had a bad pass for a turnover, chased down Langston Galloway (nine points) for a block at the rim to send the crowd into a frenzy. From Wall to Beal to Gortat to Morris to Alan Anderson (two points).
- Coach Randy Wittman put more size on Anthony with Morris, who is taller and longer at 6-10. Porter has trouble making him change direction because Anthony has a significant strength edge. It took Anthony 21 shots to get his points. Morris fought him for every inch of real estate, sometimes with no help. Anthony backed him down and Morris' contest forced the miss at the rim. He ran down to the other end in transition and threw down Wall's miss three-pointer on the fly for a thunderous dunk to force a timeout. The Wizards were up 74-63 after a 31-10 run to begin the third quarter. Porter took Porzingis who isn't as physical and that was a more favorable matchup.
- Beal returned to the starting lineup after sitting out the last game with pelvic soreness. He only made 4 of 12 shots but he created off the dribble (six assists) to compensate.
- The Knicks' transition defense was so bad it allowed the Wizards to get clean looks throughout the first quarter. Porter, however, couldn't connected on corner threes (0-for-3) and missed his first five shots overall. Anderson also missed his first three shots, all threes, that were open. When Porter made his first three, he didn't look at his feet before shooting. And then Porter had two open three-pointers in the fourth to seal it. He was 3-for-7 from distance and took 15 shots. If the looks are there and he has the confidence, they'll fall because his mechanics are good.
- Marcus Thornton scored 18 points in the Wizards' game in Philadelphia, but they needed more size and defense to wear down Anthony. Thornton did not play because of the matchup -- and correctly so -- and Ramon Sessions (four points, 10 minutes) didn't play nearly as much, either.