The Washington Wizards used an impressive third quarter, where they outscored the Knicks 33-13, to pick up their fourth straight win.
The decisive third quarter run came after a very shaky first half from the Wizards. Carmelo Anthony got off to a hot start and the Knicks were controlling the paint on both ends, not only with their rebounding but in how they were keeping the Wizards from penetrating to get easy shots. Save for a few fast breaks and mid-range jumpers from from John Wall, the Wizards' offense was virtually nonexistent, much like it was in the second half of their game against the 76ers on Thursday.
To get back into things, the Wizards went back to what worked in the first half of that game on Thursday, feeding the ball to Marcin Gortat. After only getting two shot attempts in the first half, the Wizards fed him the ball on the first possession of the second half, and went back to him often. He scored 11 points on 6 shots in the third quarter alone to help spur the comeback and finished with 15 points on 10 shots and 11 rebounds.
Another key to the turnaround was Otto Porter. The Knicks dared him to beat them in the first half, and he didn't oblige, going 2-10 from the field in the first half. However, once the rest of the team got going, it helped Otto Porter get into a groove as well. He was 4-5 from the field in the second half and hit two key threes in the final minutes to put the game away.
The Wizards finally found a Carmelo stopper, and his name is Markieff Morris
The Wizards have struggled to find ways to defend elite wing players all season, and it looked like the Wizards were going to let Carmelo Anthony have another big night , based on how he started in the first quarter. But then the Wizards tried a new strategy, switching Markieff Morris on to Carmelo Anthony and putting Otto Porter on Kristaps Porzingis.
The move worked. Morris had the right combination of length, strength, and mobility to keep Anthony from getting to his sweet spots without requiring extra help. After coming out hot in the first quarter, Morris helped limit Anthony to 12 points on 14 shots in the final three quarter to help turn the tide.
It also helped that Porter was able to hold his own guarding Porzingis on the perimeter and on the block. For as much Porter has struggled defending smaller guys this season, he's been very impressive against the bigger, stronger players you would assume that he'd struggle against.