Knicks 96, Wizards 88: "23-11 in the 4th quarter."

Rob Carr

Not quite PAYBACK, but a solid road win nonetheless.

I don't know if I'd call that a revenge win or anything, but the Knicks did take care of the Wizards on the road tonight, paying them back for the ugliness in early February. The win had a lot of the same tides as that loss a few weeks ago, including a third-quarter run that seemed to have the Knicks in control before they collapsed again, squandering an 11-point lead. They dominated the fourth, though, pulling back ahead on a questionable goaltend call (and follow-up technical) on John Wall, then widening the gap behind a couple big three-pointers, some Raymond Felton drives, and a whole bunch of stops. As BJabs pointed out, New York made up for a ten-point third-quarter margin by winning the fourth 23-11.

Quick notes:

- Hard to argue with the fourth quarter defensive stats-- the Zards shot 3-17 and committed six turnovers-- but most everything before that was pretty gross. Nothing unusual. Just a lot of random-ass doubling, poor help rotations, and sluggishness in transition. Wall got his 16 and Bradley Beal scored a career-high 29, including 12 in the third quarter. The Knicks gave those two so, so many open looks, especially in transition.

- New York made a couple of big runs to close the first (8-2) and second (11-3) quarters. Both included Melo passing really well, if I remember correctly.

- Carmelo Anthony fell just short of another double-digit free throw game (8-9) and had an exceedingly streaky evening from the field. Early on, he seemed to miss all his open looks off the catch and drain only the toughest of his attempts. Then he started cookin' a pot of soup with three straight jumpers to begin the second half only to have Trevor Ariza check in and spit in said soup. Ariza got up in his business to generate some misses, a couple turnovers, and a lot of creepily smiley trash talk (or hey, maybe they were having a totally amicable conversation and I'm just assuming!). Melo, though, got the last laugh-- or whatever the unit of smiley trash talk is-- with a huge three to put the Knicks up five just before the two-minute mark. Ariza went on to fumble a pass out of bounds on a crucial Washington possession.

- Raymond Felton's offensive performance was my favorite of the night. He missed just a few bad pull-up jumpers and spent most of his time veering around picks to finish tough attempts near the rim. He got some hiiiiigh-arcing shots to drop, including the floater that put the Knicks up six with 32 seconds to go. Felton, to my eye, has much more success getting to the rim when he takes a circuitous route or at least one sharp turn. I don't judge him to be especially fast, but he makes such nimble changes of direction. Rounded ones, too. He doesn't zig-zag, but makes these sorta rapid pivots on the run that can lose pretty much anybody. I love that little penguin. Always will.

- Tyson Chandler didn't get the ball much save for one VISCOUS first quarter dunk, grabbed barely over a third as many rebounds as he did in the previous game, and got caught helping off Emeka Okafor a few times. He mostly made great defensive plays, but the Wizards seemed to expect his traps.

- I'm sad that this has become the usual for Jason Kidd, but...it was the usual. He came off the bench this time, but even with a slight change of scenery, hideously bricked four open weak-side threes, redeeming himself only somewhat with a couple savvy defensive plays and the usual competent positioning/swing-passing. Mike Woodson really let Kidd stick around in the fourth quarter, but we never saw the other shoe drop. Just a couple missed jumpers and serial turnstile impressions as Beal shook free.

- James White started and did, by my count, one positive thing in ten minutes: Made a nice strip, raced coast-to-coast, and air-balled a layup. He also traveled on a drive and bricked a long corner two. He's just got no idea where he's supposed to be and when he's supposed to attack. With both him and the similarly spacing-challenged Iman Shumpert were out there, shit got unseemly. Knicks were practically defending one another.

- By the way, it appears Kidd and White got swapped because Pablo Prigioni had to sit with back spasms and Woodson felt he needed Kidd as a back-up one.

- Shump played okay. I feel like he's getting just as many deflections and strips as he did last year, but just has bad luck keeping them in bounds. He opened the game looking almost exclusively to pass, and did so with decent success. His timing wasn't the best, but he make three or four productive entry feeds to Amar'e Stoudemire and Chandler. Shump didn't participate in the fourth quarter until the final minute or two, which felt a little late, but it's not like he was shutting anyone down before that. Beal blew right by him a couple times when he gambled.

- Whoa, J.R. Smith had TWELVE rebounds!? I knew he was pullin' them down, but goddamn, J.R. Good work. J.R. did a great job driving and cutting to the rim in the first quarter, then settled for more and more jumpers-- with varying success- as the game went on. He did sink a pretty big three to put New York up four in the fourth.

- Steve Novak hit a corner three and a hysterical pull-up two off the glass, but good GOD was his defensive positioning bad.

- Amar'e Stoudemire had some shaky stretches-- including a few of those predictable turnovers where he gets himself cornered and just surrenders the ball to a double team-- but finished with 12 points on a bunch of beautiful back-to-the-basket moves. It used to be so frustrating to watch him jump directly into defenders, so it's been amazing to watch him cover like ten feet of ground and get right to the rim by grindin' and windin' instead of making straight approaches. Would be nice if he got that jumper to fall a little more regularly, though it seemed like he was pulling up from a bit outside his range (and the repeated front-rim landings tended to agree).

- No Kenyon Martin.

That's all. Pretty solid road victory, which makes it a quiet three straight wins. To Miami New York they go to face the Heat!

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