On the second night of a back-to-back, the Knicks’ poor effort on defense gave up a whopping 121 points to John Wall, Bradley Beal, and the Washington Wizards.
The New York Knicks (18–20), on the second night of a back-to-back, found themselves in a straight-up shootout with the Washington Wizards (22–16) early on, but the Knicks petered out in the third quarter while their opponents kept it rolling. The Knicks staged a late comeback, but Washington never slowed down, pulling away to a final score of 121–103.
Let’s take a look at some of the big takeaways from the game.
Best backcourt in the league?
Back in October of 2014, Bradley Beal and John Wall boldly claimed that they were the best backcourt in the league. At the time, that was not true. It was so not true that Kyrie Irving and world-renowned Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers’ backcourt at the time, immediately disagreed arguing they were obviously the far better tandem and they weren’t totally wrong.
Fast forward to today, and there are only two duos I would comfortably put ahead of Wall and Beal; one of them is in Houston and the other is in Golden State. What other one-two punch imposes their will on games more than Washington’s? Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have something to say, but they don’t have quite the same synergy as Wall, a cutthroat pass-first savant, and Beal, the modern Ray Allen. Same goes for Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. It’s definitely not Jarrett Jack, who’s been mostly respectable for the Knicks this year, and Courtney Lee. The Knicks have a fine guard rotation on defense, but Wall and Beal both did their thing tonight and the Knicks had no answers containing the two All-Stars.
Swiss-cheese defense saps all momentum
The Wizards took over in the third quarter, but the Knicks mounted a little run late in the fourth thanks to explosive stuff from, who else, President Michael Beasley:
Beasley with one hell of a move here
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 4, 2018
But the Knicks defense continued to hemorrhage points—Beasley definitely doesn’t help on that end—and couldn’t disrupt the Wizards’ rhythm enough to pull the game within shouting distance. Ron Baker and Courtney Lee had no chance against Beal, who put up a clinic on shooting guard footwork, especially from the left side of the floor and from the nail.
A very tired unicorn
It’s no secret Kristaps Porzingis has taken off this year. He’s probably a lock for the All-Star Game, averaging a career high 24.1 points per game on 44.1 percent shooting, but he’s struggled over his past two games.
Against San Antonio last night, Porzingis looked visibly frustrated by the Spurs’ tactic of switching smaller defenders onto him that have the footspeed to match KP’s unusual quickness at 7-foot-3. Tonight against Washington, KP looked to be feeling the effects of back-to-back scheduling, and was hesitant at times taking the lead-footed Marcin Gortat off the dribble.
He finished with just 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting after his 5-of-19 night against the Spurs. He’ll figure it out, but it wouldn’t hurt the Knicks or KP’s legs to diversify their offense a little, especially if they want him to be fresh for a playoff push in the coming months.
The Knicks, currently sitting ninth in the East, will get a day off before they continue their road trip with a matchup in South Beach against the Miami Heat on Friday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.