Knicks Vs. Wizards Recap: Wizards Fall To 0-7 With Frustrating Loss

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks puts up a shot against the defense of Trevor Booker #35 of the Washington Wizards late in the second half at Verizon Center on January 6, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Washington Wizards played probably the most entertaining game of the year, but in the end, they're still winless, falling to the New York Knicks, 99-96. The loss was exciting, but also incredibly infuriating in how it ended. Let's just dive into the notes.

  • John Wall missed two baffling layups early on fast break, but kept attacking, and good things eventually happened. First, he fed Nick Young for a corner three. Then, he easily beat Toney Douglas coming left to right for a layup. Later, he did the same thing to Mike Bibby after a JaVale McGee block. Before the game, Saunders shared an anecdote on how he brought a Marine in to talk to the team last year. One thing the Marine talked about was "failing quickly." The theory being, if they dwelled on a failed operation or even a failed step within an operation, lives would be lost. If they can move on quickly, so can the Wizards. In the first quarter, Wall personified failing quickly.
  • For all the flack Flip Saunders has gotten, I liked what he did at the 4:37 mark. Andray Blatche lost his concentration on a post-up, allowing Mike Bibby to strip the ball. On the very next stoppage, Saunders immediately replaced Blatche with Trevor Booker. Saunders then immediately went over to Blatche, talked to him as Blatche looked frustrated and they hashed it out right there. That's exactly the kind of treatment so many fans have asked for with Blatche. If he makes a mistake, don't be afraid to go with a quick hook. Note: Blatche had picked up his second foul, but at least there was talking.
  • Of course, Saunders did the same thing with McGee after McGee made a bad offensive move on Chandler from the top of the key. That's OK, though. It's easier to accept a quick hook for McGee when Blatche gets one too.
  • It must be said: the Knicks really struggled early. Amar'e Stoudemire looked completely out of the game, and it didn't take long for Anthony to start forcing shots, which screwed up the Knicks' transition defense.
  • I'm going to say it again because it's worth noting: New York's transition defense was really bad early.
  • Chris Singleton simply needs more minutes. He knows where to be defensively off the ball, which explains how he's able to jump passing lanes. Offensively, he spaces the floor very well and won't step out of his role. He always has active hands too, making it tough for a player to even swing the ball to the opposite wing.
  • Like seeing Blatche play hard, but he also lost concentration a bit on both ends, allowing Stoudemire to cut behind him for an easy layup and committing his third foul on a charge. Always have to remember that playing hard isn't just trying, it's also concentrating.
  • Anthony and Stoudemire started putting their stamp on the game in the second quarter, going after Singleton and Booker and helping to get their team back into the game. That's why they're great players -- don't think the youngsters played poorly, though Anthony got Singleton off-balanced a couple times. The Wizards needed to send more help than they did -- McGee didn't provide nearly enough assistance to Singleton.
  • Wall started to get a bit sloppy towards the end of the second quarter. One thing I'd like to see Wall do more of is pitch it ahead on the break instead of always dribbling it down himself. He missed chances to hit Young and Singleton in stride, which I'd like to see him take. The point guards with truly great court vision are able to recognize when to pitch it ahead and give their teams easy buckets without getting on the stat sheet themselves.
  • For all of Singleton's defensive gifts, he could stand to gain a little lower-body strength. Anthony really backed him down too easily and forced him off-balanced. Just like in the Celtics game, Singleton was given an education in defending an elite offensive player. At least he was allowed to stay in and learn this time.
  • The Wizards missed Ronny Turiaf in this one. McGee simply wasn't stepping up enough on pick and rolls, and Seraphin was far too green to fight under the rim with Tyson Chandler. With Turiaf playing, the Wizards are able to withstand New York's push in the second quarter.
  • Honesty, the lack of help Singleton was provided at the end of the second quarter on Anthony was really bad. I know Anthony was making quick moves, but that double-team needs to come quickly. If a shooter beats you, so be it. Singleton did his best, but he's not ready for that challenge when Anthony is cooking like that.
  • Rashard Lewis' third quarter is one he'd like to forget. In perhaps the lowest moment of the game, Lewis cut too early, causing Wall to throw the ball away. He slowly retrieved the ball, lost balance, flipped a horrible crosscourt pass that Anthony intercepted, then stood there as Anthony raced in for a layup. Just unacceptable effort from a veteran that's supposed to be a leader of the team. I'd have benched him on the spot. He also shot a 22-foot three 21 feet and air-balled a runner until Saunders finally took him out of the game for Singleton.
  • Wall's pick and roll defense once again was an issue. He also lost Iman Shumpert off the ball several times, which forced both Wizards big men to sink off their man just enough to open up easy shots. It's always hard to assign blame for these kinds of things, but I'd lean more to Wall early in the third quarter. He also has to stop going for pump fakes -- staying down shouldn't be that hard for a guy like him.
  • It's really nuts how things snowball for these guys. Things as simple as fighting through a down screen that frees Stoudemire for a wide-open jumper become hard. Missed free-throws lead to offensive rebounds. Attention to detail is forgotten. But perhaps the worst play was after the Knicks battered the paint and got a tip-in. Saunders started talking to McGee, and McGee just trotted up the court for whatever reason. Wall had to start the play with McGee at halfcourt because he was moving so slowly. Fail quickly, folks.
  • The Wizards' rally began with -- you guessed it -- a hustle play from Singleton to retrieve the ball after Young fired an errant shot. He's obviously not polished, but he needs PT, and after Lewis' third-quarter act, there's an obvious guy he should get them from.
  • Jordan Crawford continues to make shots far more difficult than they need to be. It's not just shot selection, it's that he's not squared up on his jumpers and chooses to take floaters right by the rim instead of going up strong. It's hard enough to find efficient shots; now, Crawford's making decent shots difficult.
  • Crawford also helped off Mike Bibby in the strongside corner twice and got burned, once with a three and once with a long two. Both times, his help wasn't really needed. That's basic basketball right there.
  • Melo hit shots, but the Wizards didn't always swarm on him like they should have. It's a subtle thing, but the help defenders often left him a split-second too early, allowing Anthony just enough room to raise up without a hand in his face.
  • Wall tried to do too much at the end. He forced free throws, but he has to realize he needs to trust his teammate even if they can't be trusted. Honestly, my favorite play of the fourth was his pitch-ahead pass to Young, who managed to hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to three. Wall has to understand that he helps his team more if he does that every so often instead of just using his speed with little idea of an eventual outcome.
  • Trevor Booker really did a GREAT job on Anthony late in the game. I like the way Saunders trusted him late. He's better for the bulkier small forwards, whereas Singleton might be better for the quicker ones. Both players will be needed.
  • Two hands, JaVale. Always dunk with two hands. Then, you don't have to hit two pressure free throws.
  • The shot Wall took at 1:08 was an example of where he should have pulled it back. But the one where he got a transition layup for the go-ahead hoop? Good decision. Use the speed when you should use the speed. One-on one is good. One on three is not.
  • Refs missed an obvious offensive foul on Anthony on the go-ahead shot with 15.5 left, but Blatche has to provide more help than he did. You can't give Anthony a clean look at the rim with the way he has played in this game.
  • Wall for three is just not a good decision at all. Wall for three is just not a good decision at all. Wall for three is just not a good decision at all. Wall for three is just not a good decision at all. Wall for three is just not a good decision at all. Wall for three is just not a good decision at all. Wall for three is just not a good decision at all.
  • Speaking of bad decisions, Jordan Crawford was wide open on the other side of the court, as in nobody within several feet of him, and Wall ignores him to pass to Nick Young for a contested three. I know it's Crawford, but a wide-open shot by anyone is better than one with two defenders bearing down.
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