The Washington Wizards scored a whopping 36 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday in a 106-96 victory over the visiting New York Knicks. Forwards Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza combined on 10-for-16 from behind the three-point arc on a night in which the Wizards boasted six players in double-digits scoring. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony set a game-high 31 points in defeat.
"I told the team, 'That's what a quality NBA game is made up of.' What we had tonight are instances where we played very well, and then they (the Knicks) would come back for us and play very well," said Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman postgame. "Tonight we had instances where we just didn't put our heads down. And this is a team that it is easy to do that against, with as many threes as they take and as hard as it is to cover Carmelo." Despite a home crowd comprised of quite a few vocal Knicks fans--including MVP chants for 'Melo right before the end of the first half--the Wizards protected their court by limiting the sharpshooting visitors and playing team defense.
"Wall gives them an up-tempo pace, he pushes the ball in transition, he is a one man break," said Anthony after the game. "He gets it and goes, he forces you to stay in front of him and stop and build a wall. Tonight he was kicking it out, they shot 55% from three, he made it tough." As a result of Wall's pace, New York went a dismal 9-for-28 (.321) from behind the three-point arc. Washington, on the other hand, went 11-for-20 (.550), fueled by the first half efforts of Webster and Ariza, who were lights out from deep. Their efforts gave the Wizards their first 100-point performance since the day-by-day loss of Bradley Beal (sore wrist).
"Since we've been winning the fans have been coming out to support us a little bit more than they had earlier in the season," said Ariza, regarding Washington's recent success at the Verizon Center. "This is home. We try to do our best to protect it. We always give ourselves a better chance at home. We can sleep in our beds, be around our families. It's the home environment." The game certainly felt like a road game with all of the Knicks fans in attendance, but Washington played as a team while New York made use of individual play. While the Wizards have made questionable coaching decisions this season, rack this one up as a coach-won game.
In the fourth quarter, Coach Wittman employed a third small forward to his five-man team out on the court. Chris Singleton joined Webster, Ariza, John Wall, and Kevin Seraphin, who was later subbed out for Nene. The small ball lineup countered the 'Melo led Knicks, who finished the third quarter with a 73-70 lead.
Ariza opened the fourth with a three-pointer on his way to 20 points off the bench, 9 which came in the fourth. Wall led the team with 21 points--10 in the fourth--and dished 9 assists. Webster chipped in 19, Nene added a 13 points, 10 rebounds double-double--including a back breaker baby hook shot with 2:36 left to play--and Singleton scored 9 of his 10 points in the final period, including a three-pointer as well as a tough, baseline fadeaway.
"You have to give the Washington Wizards credit tonight," said Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson postgame. "They played an outstanding game tonight from start to finish, and we simply did not match their intensity. As a team we went flat and we had the mindset that we would show up and eventually turn it on. That was not the case tonight."
It'll be hard to top a win in front of Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari and NBA legend Magic Johnson, but Washington is now 6-1 at home since the January 12 return of Wall. The Wizards will host another New York team in the Brooklyn Nets Friday (7:00 p.m. ET, CSN) followed by a two-game road trip.