Wizards drop sixth straight, swap spots in East with Knicks


The Washington Wizards lost to the Knicks 100-97 in New York on Friday night. Here are five observations from what went down...

Six straight

The Wizards have been losing quite a bit lately, only to see their draft lottery odds somehow get worse. But if there was one silver lining to their loss in New York on Friday, it's that they finally helped themselves in that regard.

The Knicks beat the Wizards and also moved ahead of them into 11th in the East, one spot outside of the play-in tournament. That bumped the Wizards down to 12th in the East, but also now gives them the 10th-best lottery odds. 

Basically, what it means is they temporarily doubled their chances of getting the No. 1 pick from 1.5% to 3%. Their chances of picking in the top-4 went from 7.2% to 13.9%.

Speaking of percentages, the Knicks shot just 34.4% in this game yet they still won. You don't often see that.

The lottery implications, though, are the bright-side of the fact they have now lost six straight games and nine of their last 11. The Wizards are 29-40 on the season.

Randle was a handful

The Wizards have long had trouble with Julius Randle and this game was no different. Randle got going in the second quarter with 11 points in the frame. He also had 10 rebounds by halftime. For the game, Randle scored 18 points with 17 boards in 39 minutes. He shot 6-for-22 from the field and 1-for-7 from three.

Randle is a tough match-up for the Wizards, who struggle with paint defense. He found little resistance driving downhill and once he did, he started getting more daylight for outside shots. The Knicks are not a good offensive team, but Randle is a force and the Wizards weren't able to match him physically.


Kuzma got going late

It took a few months, but Kyle Kuzma had finally started to slow down a bit. He had two off games in a row, scoring only six points (3-10 FG) against the Nuggets and 11 points (4-12 FG) against the Warriors. Kuzma was off in this game through three quarters but woke up late with a flurry of shots to pull the Wizards within one point at 98-97. He then missed a pull-up three with under 10 seconds to go, as the Knicks were able to hold on. Kuzma finished with 18 points and nine assists on 6-for-17 shooting.

No one can fault Kuzma for a mini-slump with how important he has been for the Wizards this season. Amid all the roster change and disappointing losses, he's arguably been their most valuable player. Kuzma found his rhythm in late December and carried it for nearly three months. Perhaps the late push can get him back going. He happens to see his former team, the Lakers, on Saturday.

3PT defense

The trend of opposing teams lighting the Wizards up from three carried over into this one, as the Knicks made 10 threes, shooting 30.3% from long range, a number that dipped in the fourth quarter. They were at 39.1% after three. New York is an above-average team shooting the three and the Wizards let them get going early with some poor defensive rotations. The Knicks made their first three threes and it wasn't like they were closely contested.

Evan Fournier got two to fall early off screens and finished with 15 points, shooting 5-for-11 from deep. Alec Burks also hurt them with two threes as part of his 12 points. This was the eighth straight game a Wizards opponent has made double-digit threes.

Porzingis' return

There didn't seem to be much hype at all to Kristaps Porzingis' return to New York where he began his career and developed into an All-Star. Granted, it's been three years since Porzingis was traded by the Knicks to the Mavericks and he hadn't played for a year before he was dealt because he was recovering from a torn ACL.

Porzingis came back to score 18 points and grab 11 rebounds in 29 minutes, on a crisp 5-for-9 shooting from the field and 2-for-5 from three. Perhaps the most interesting stat was his minutes, as he wasn't limited on the first night of a back-to-back. Porzingis is expected to play on Saturday against the Lakers after previously being held out in similar situations. The Wizards, though, feel his bone bruise injury is behind him and are intent on him building some chemistry with his new teammates before the season runs out.