Here's your recap roundup for the Washington Wizards' 120-99 blowout loss Tuesday to the New York Knicks, who with the win secured their first Atlantic Division crown in 19 years. Head over to our StoryStream for more coverage and be sure to check out these postgame interviews with Randy Wittman, John Wall and A.J. Price, courtesy of Monumental Network.
Wall had been waiting for an opportunity to showcase how much he has improved since his last visit to the Garden nearly a year ago. And with a near-capacity crowd anxious to see the home team extend its winning streak to 13 games and clinch its first Atlantic Division title in 19 years, Wall did steal occasional cheers with his ability to zip past defenders for layups and dunks.
But aside from Wall, there were few other offensive options for the Washington Wizards, who were overwhelmed by the three-point barrage of Carmelo Anthony and the hot-shooting Knicks, 120-99.
SF Carmelo Anthony, who had a team-high 36 points on 13 of 21 shooting, eight rebounds and six assists, scored 21 on eight of 11 shooting during a seven-minute stretch as the Knicks led 95-71 entering the fourth quarter. It was Anthony's fifth consecutive game of scoring 35 points or more as the Knicks (51-26) won their 13th game in a row and clinched their first Atlantic Division title since 1994. Wall finished with a team-high 33 points on 11 of 19 shooting. He also made 11 of 14 free throws.
Virtually no one besides John Wall put up a fight against the surging Knicks. Wall scored 33 points in 33 minutes, and often dazzled the Madison Square Garden crowd with an array of layups. John Wall has finally begun to learn how to use his speed in the half court. The short handed Knicks squad had no match for Wall. This was probably one of the best games John Wall has had this season, in terms of penetration. He got anything he wanted by attacking the basket. Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, and Iman Shumpert just couldn't keep up with Wall. Sadly, Wall's teammates struggled to contribute to his efforts.
The Wizards had a 21-10 advantage in made free throws. It didn't matter. The Knicks were 20 of 36 from three-point distance. Reigning NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week Carmelo Anthony played three quarters and scored 36 points. Anthony scored 21 of his points in the third quarter when the Knicks outscored the Wizards 37-28.
Anthony stayed right on the blistering pace that won him Eastern Conference player of the week honors after averaging 41.8 points while inching ahead of Kevin Durant for the NBA scoring lead last week. He sat out the fourth quarter after going 13 of 21 from the field.
''We know he's hot and we tried to get the ball out of his hands, but he's very efficient and can score in various ways,'' Wall said. ''Hats off to him.''
The Knicks came out on fire in this one and really never cooled off. They shot 56% from the field and 55% from three point range. The Knicks jumped out to a 13 point lead at the end of the first quarter and really never looked back, as they opened the game 10 of 14 from three. The Wizards looked like they might cut into the lead before the half as they pulled within eight with a minute to go, but the Knicks closed the half on a 7-0 run to push the lead back to 15. The Knicks clinched their first Atlantic Division title since 1994 and also got their 13th straight win. This is also the Knicks longest winning streak since 1994.
The combination of Nene and Emeka Okafor once again had a poor showing. Despite Tyson Chandler sitting with an injury, the duo started slow and failed to give a meaningful effort, even when the outcome of the game had been decided.
Each player scored fewer than 10 points and Okafor struggled early with turnovers, poor shots, and getting pushed around in the paint.
Considering the investment the Wizards have in their front court, this trend is truly concerning.
Washington knew exactly what it needed to do to have any chance of defeating the Knicks and snap a nine-game losing streak in New York. But the Wizards did let Anthony get loose for a game-high 36 points - including 21 in the third quarter alone - and left three-point shooters wide open as the Knicks to match their franchise record with 20 shots from beyond the arc. They also continued a disturbing trend of embarrassing losses in New York, where the Wizards lost both road games this season by 21 points.
With the loss, the Wizards can't reach double-digit wins on the road. At 7-32, they have two left -- at Brooklyn and at the Chicago Bulls next week.
"They shot the ball extremely well from the 3 and then they took us off the dribble," Wittman said. "We didn't do a very good job of doing either one of those things."
Tonight was that last thing. Everybody hit everything. Carmelo Anthony passed brilliantly out of the post-- waiting, surveying the floor, attracting help, throwing not just swing passes but direct cross-court assists-- while Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton created adeptly off the dribble. Those three propagated great ball movement that found open looks for everyone. The Knicks hit nine threes in the first quarter (the most in any quarter this season) and tied a franchise record with twenty on the night.
They rained 3-pointers, deployed backcourt traps and generally treated the Washington Wizards like a minor nuisance blocking their path to glory. When the final buzzer sounded at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks had a 120-99 victory - their 13th win in a row - and, at long last, a division championship in hand.
"We win a division, that's accomplished. But the big picture is winning a title," Mike Woodson said. "I'm only in it for one thing, man. The division is great, because that's what we set out to do as a team, but the big picture is trying to win a championship. We're headed in the right direction, but we still have a ways to go."
"It was our No. 1 goal," said J.R. Smith, one of six Knicks in double figures with 17 points. "Coming into camp, we kept talking about it, and the coaching staff put it in our minds we can do it and we will. Fortunately we did. It's a great thing to achieve one of our main goals; now we just have to go get that gold ball. We still have so much to prove not only to everybody else but to ourselves. We want to be a great team.''
The Knicks won their 13th straight. Next on their agenda is getting the No. 2 seed in the East, which would give them the home court edge for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. They remain 21/2 games up on Indiana and reduced their magic number to clinch the second seed to three with five to play. The Knicks will open up the playoffs at the Garden April 20 and could play Boston, Atlanta or Chicago.
"It's just one little step. One building block," Jason Kidd said of the Atlantic crown. "One of our goals when we started the training camp in October was to win the division. We did that this evening. But that doesn't mean anything. We still have a long ways to go."
Carmelo Anthony, the reigning NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week, honored Bernard King-who was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday-by tying his franchise record with five consecutive 35-point performances. Anthony finished with 36 points on 13-of-21 shooting. He's hit 17 of 29 3-pointers over his last five games.
The Knicks shot 56.3 percent from the floor on the night and despite being small, outrebounded Washington 39-38.
The only negative on the night is the fact that they were torched by the opposing point guard once again as John Wall finished with 33 points, but it didn't really matter as the Knicks led comfortably most of the night.