Hosting the Wizards on Wednesday night, the Knicks lost control of the game early as they fell 116-105, putting their home record at 11-13 on the season.

It was an ugly one for the Knicks tonight. From the jump, it was clear they did not have what it would take to get the job done in front of the home crowd. In fact, there was never a point in the game where they had the lead. Their team, finally at full strength with Bradley Beal returning from a hamstring injury, set the tone early and never looked back.

Jalen Brunson led the way for the Knicks with 32 points, four assists, and two steals, as he continues to put together an impressive All-Star campaign in recent weeks. Behind Brunson was RJ Barrett, who finished 21 points, seven rebounds, and two assists. Julius Randle had the most uncharacteristic game of the season, ending the night with 14 points and 15 rebounds on 6-of-17 shooting and two turnovers. If it weren’t for a couple of late-game baskets, Randle would’ve finished with single-digit scoring, a rare feat for him of late.

After scoring 40 points in his last game against the Knicks, Kyle Kuzma put together another great performance, scoring 27 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and dishing out seven assists en route to the road victory. Not far behind him was former Knick Kristaps Porzingis, who had 22 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks in his return to the Garden.

New York is usually the one to set the tone in the first quarter, and that effort is often led by Julius Randle. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case tonight, as the Wizards got off to a commanding 14-3 start, forcing Tom Thibodeau to call a timeout just three minutes into the game. After hearing some boos in the pre-game, Porzingis embraced the fans and fed off that energy to score eight points in the first two minutes, including two threes from the top of the arc.

Coming out of the timeout, the Wizards didn’t let up. They dominated the first quarter, hitting seven of their 13 attempts from behind the arc and earning some significant breathing room to end the first quarter. Three-pointers weren’t the only thing that hurt the Knicks in the first period though. Heading into the game, the Knicks ranked 18th in second-chance points allowed, at 14.3 points per game. It continued to be an issue for them early, as they gave up nine points in the first half simply because they could not secure the rebound to finish out the defensive possession. With New York settling for outside jumpers early in the game, it was a rough first quarter, to say the least.

After an abysmal start, things started to work in the Knicks’ favor in the second quarter. Despite losing Mitchell Robinson due to a sprained thumb, New York rallied around RJ Barrett and the bench to get stops and attack the inside, helping them close the gap in the process. Barrett got to the rim at will, scoring eight points in the second quarter to help the Knicks get back into the game. But every time New York attempted to make a serious cut into the lead, the Wizards put their foot on the gas, keeping their composure and staying persistent, and most importantly, knocking down three-pointers with ease. Following improved efforts in the second quarter, capped off by an emphatic slam from Julius Randle, the Knicks found themselves trailing the Wizards by eight, 56-48 as they headed to the locker room.

The third quarter was a prime opportunity to turn the tides and get things going for New York, but Washington had an answer every time the Knicks found some momentum. Jalen Brunson battled the Wizard’s defense constantly, driving to the basket, drawing fouls, and everything in between to keep them within striking distance. He simply carried the Knicks’ offense in the third quarter, generating 16 of the team’s 30 points. While the Wizards did a great job moving the ball throughout the course of the game, New York was able to force turnovers to create opportunities on the other end, something they desperately needed with Washington excelling from beyond the arc. Stringing together a few defensive stops to end the quarter, it looked as if the momentum shifted heading into the final quarter of play, with the Knicks trailing by 10.

As he usually does, Immanuel Quickley set the tone to begin the fourth quarter, attacking the basket and baiting defenders into fouls, which cut Washington’s lead to seven with just over nine minutes remaining. His ability to step up in the fourth quarter in this recent stretch of games has done wonders for the Knicks.

After he set the tone to begin the fourth, nobody on the Knicks was able to back him up, and the Wizards took advantage with an 8-0 run to negate everything Quickley had done to cut into the deficit. It was Kyle Kuzma who stepped up for Washington midway through the fourth, scoring a variety of reverse layups around the rim to keep New York at a distance. The Knicks made an effort to cut the lead once again, but Kyle Kuzma and the Wizards had an answer once again, grabbing crucial offensive rebounds to help run the clock down, sending the game to the final buzzer, putting the Knicks home record at 11-13.

Other Takeaways

  • Immanuel Quickley was a bright spot for the Knicks in the second half. He finished the game with 18 points, five rebounds, and a steal on 6-of-13 shooting from the field. His foul-drawing ability is special, and a large part of why the Knicks were able to hang close to the Wizards for so long. Over the last 16 games, he has averaged 18.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, and has scored in double figures in every contest during that stretch. Quickley’s value to the team continues to skyrocket with him being the majority of the Knicks bench scoring.
  • While New York allowed the Wizards to can 16-of-42 shots from behind the arc, they didn’t help themselves out on the offense as they mightily struggled to find their shot on the outside, shooting just 7-of-26 in the loss.
  • The Knicks may have done a great job drawing fouls and getting to the line, but struggled to capitalize on their chances from the charity stripe shooting 18-for-27 from the line, good for just 66.7%. With New York now ranking 19th in free throw percentage on the season, it should become a point of emphasis going forward as the All-Star break nears.
  • Jericho Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein finished with a combined 6 points and 8 rebounds on the night. Given that Mitchell Robinson exited the game early in the second quarter with a sprained thumb, the Knicks had to rely on their two backup centers to get in there and do the dirty work. Unfortunately, they did not show up in the game or on the box score, as Washington outrebounded New York 67-54, getting plenty of second-chance opportunities to keep themselves in front.
  • When it came to sharing the ball, Washington excelled in that area, finishing the game with 28 assists, making the extra pass that would lead to the open three. On the other end of the floor, the Knicks struggled, dishing out a mere 14 assists, their second-lowest output of the season. New York’s offense tonight was built on plays within isolation, and their assists numbers were a direct result of their inability to share the ball and get the offensive sets going in this outing.

The Knicks’ next matchup will come on Friday when they travel to Atlanta to face the Hawks at the State Farm Arena. After some difficulties putting together wins at home, hopefully a game on the road will go over well for New York. Tip-off is at 7:30 pm EST.

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