Wizards 101, Knicks 91
So the Wizards finally returned to DC and as a celebratory measure for their homecoming they performed a public beating of the New York Knicks, a team that has been tormented by their abuse three times now this season. That one blowout in November; then the riot on Christmas Day; you’d think by the third meeting the Knicks would have figured out a way to at least..no, wait a second. No, you wouldn’t think anything from the Knicks.
Punch lines about the Knicks are strong and often too easy but I’m going to give you one any way because at five wins in about 40 games, they’ve become the tune-up shop of the NBA. The best in town. They’ll leave you looking spotless and brand new. They’ll even offer you a free scented tree so that your freshness remains for when the Bulls swing by on Friday and they can smell the dominance.
And shame on the Wizards for teasing a fat kid with cake when they squandered their big margin to single digits. It was a resistance test, really. The Wizards let the lead drop to as little as five, then let Rasual Butler knock down a few shots until the lead was back up to 15. This process also rewarded Drew Gooden some true garbage time and helped to loosen up DeJuan Blair’s knees.
And so now that the tune-up is complete, the Wizards have been restored with a little confidence and have the Chicago Bulls returning to town, in my opinion a must-win game. A huge game.
Last night’s win was much-needed fun, but the more important thing is that the Wizards need a lot of what they did last night, on Friday against Chicago.
Here’s a few things the Wizards got done on the work order:
#NeneHands were buffed and polished. Like the rest of the Wizards starters, Nene got some good stretches of rest but when he was on the floor, he was merely unstoppable. He stuffed the stat sheet in just 23 minutes at the expense of some bad Knicks defense, finishing with 20 points on 13 shots, 6 boards, 4 assists and was a +21. He even acceptably attempted a 3-point shot attempt Victimized the most by the Big Brazilian was Cole Aldrich, who lovably plays so hard yet so laughably just not good enough.
Rasual Butler’s ‘Check Engine’ light reprogrammed. Problems may still exist. You know when you go to the shop or a ‘Check Engine’ light and your mechanic gets rid of it without giving you real diagnostics. It’s because he’s shady and simply reprogrammed the setting in your car’s code scan. Sometimes this causes the light to reappear in the future but for the time being, you’re cool with it. For a night against the Knicks, Butler got rid of his check engine light and returned back to his serviceable ways after a long stretch of struggle. Over the previous 8 games before the Knicks last night, Butler had just made 31% of 61 shots. He was very much overdue for a bounce-back game and the Knicks were right on time to give hime one. Butler finished with 14 points, including 7 critical ones in the 4th quarter after the Knicks had closed the gap to 5. Also a delight was Butler’s ability to make a play in transition, an area where he’s been terrible for much of the season.
John Wall and Bradley Beal. The BW Parkway wasn’t very traffic-friendly to the Knicks last night. Both lanes blocked with a coned passageway around the shoulder for 10 miles followed by several sobriety checkpoints to the dismay of some very incoherent Knicks. It’s always great to see Beal knocking down at least four 3’s in a game. It was actually the only kind of shot he made all night, going 4-6 from 3. John Wall, meanwhile, stuffed the box score with 18 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals.
Wall usually likes to test his various skills a bit more when he plays against the Knicks. I mean, against a 33-loss team who likes to offer substantial amounts of minutes to a far lesser sized and talented Shane Larkin, shouldn’t he? Post-ups leading to turnaround fadeways; stutter steps and step back J’s; a few extra hesitation moves. Nothing like tweaking some of your arsenal and using it for target practice. It was thoroughly enjoyable to watch, too.