The New York Knicks, needing to virtually win every single contest of their last six in order to make the playoffs, lost a pivotal game to the post-season bound Washington Wizards on Friday night at MSG.
Following the Atlanta Hawks drubbing of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, the Knicks now sit back in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and two games back in the loss column. The team started their first of six-straight games against playoff teams from the Eastern Conference with a loss to the sixth-seeded Washington Wizards and to sum it up bluntly, this one hurt! The Knicks had multiple chances to put this game away, but ultimately their scoring just went ice cold when it mattered most.
- Bradley Beal, once again, played the hero for the Washington Wizards as he swished through a baseline jumper to sink the Knicks at home. The jumper capped off a 28 point night for the rising star. The last contest at MSG we all witnessed Beal go right around former Knicks point guard Beno Udrih for an easy go-ahead layup. Beal seems to be the latest “Knick killer” following in line with the likes of Paul Pierce. Although he is a shooting guard, the 20-year old Beal and John Wall combine for a quick backcourt which the Knicks seemingly can’t defend nowadays. The bad news is that they will be in the Eastern Conference for a long time.
- Carmelo Anthony did not lead the Knicks in scoring, in fact he only shot 5-14 from the field. However, he did have some key pass deflections and rebounds all night. All in all, this was a dreadful game for Anthony as he finished with nearly as many points (10) as turnovers (9), but the worst part is he grimaced in pain all night as well. Last year you will recall Anthony injured his left shoulder, well tonight we watched Anthony shake his right arm from the shoulder, and hold his right hand in pain. Of course we can all speculate about the injury, but let’s face it this was due for a player who has led the league in minutes played, with 38.8 minutes per game, and is assaulted night in and night out down low.
- Another player whose contributions will be overlooked for the Wizards is Marcin Gortat. His stat line doesn’t jump off the page, but he finished with a solid 13 points and 10 rebounds, his major contribution is in the pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop game for the Wizards. All those great looks that Wall and Beal get are due to well placed and tough screens by Gortat. He’s a solid defender as well, who held Stoudemire and Chandler in check at least in the first half. Gortat is a big reason for the Wizards success this year.
- J.R. Swish has officially earned his nickname back with this recent stretch of games – better late than never I guess. Smith led the Knicks in points with 32 and shot 8-16 from behind the arc. A few games back Smith tied a Knicks record for three-pointers in a game with nine against the Sacramento Kings. Given the fact that Carmelo Anthony will not be 100 percent down the stretch the Knicks will need Smith to continue pouring in the points. If he shoots 50 percent from deep I think we will all be happy with his questionable shot selection from game-to-game.
-Amare Stoudemire had another solid game after a very slow start. Going into the half, Stoudemire had two points on 0-3 shooting (2 free throws) and then started the second half with two free throws which seemingly brought him to life on the offensive end. He finished with 16 points on 6-9 shooting and four rebounds along with a big block on Marcin Gortat, although he was later posterized by him. S.T.A.T later returned the favor finishing over Gortat on a great feed from Carmelo Anthony. Stoudemire spent a critical portion of the fourth quarter on the bench when the Knicks could have used a scoring punch.
-T he last three minutes of the game were very tight and the Knicks offense went into all out isolation/high ball screen mode. The same play (high ball screen with Amare as the roll man) was ran on the Knicks last three or four possessions and they made it too easy for the Wizards to defend. The very last possession where the Knicks had a chance to win the game Carmelo Anthony was given the ball despite his terrible shooting night, and right on cue Anthony was stripped going down the lane which led to a desperation three-point heave by J.R. Smith. Great coaching during that last sequence, Woody!
- Next up for the Knicks will be a matinee game in Miami with the Heat. The Heat are still fighting to hang on to the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference so this game will mean as much to them as the Knicks. One or two more losses will put the nail in the coffin on what can only be called a disastrous season. Let’s see if the Knicks can actually show some fortitude and bounce back against a formidable opponent.