Washington got off to a slow start against New York, who went with a different look that caught them off guard early. Luke Kornet filled in for Enes Kanter, who didn’t make the trip and went to work hurting the Wizards where they feel it most. He connected on 4 three-pointers in the first quarter as the Knicks jumped out to an early lead. New York extended the lead to 19 midway through the second quarter thanks to strong bench play from Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier, who combined for 23 in the first half.
On the other end, Washington couldn’t find a rhythm from deep. Bradley Beal missed six of his first seven shots and committed four turnovers in the first half while and Trevor Ariza only made two of his first six shots. Tomas Satoransky and Thomas Bryant were the only reasons Washington kept it as close as it was for most of the first half.
Beal finally got it going in the final three minutes of the half, connecting on three shots in the final three minutes to trim the deficit down to 10 entering halftime. It looked like the Wizards might finally snap out of it, but then Beal missed five shots in the first three minutes of the second half as the Knicks slowly extended the lead back out to 16.
It really looked like it might not be the Wizards’ game until Troy Brown Jr. entered the game late in the third quarter. He gave the team a quick jolt with 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 9 minutes of second-half action that gave Washington the spark they needed to turn the game around.
The Wizards went on a quick 9-2 run midway through the fourth quarter to erase what was left of the deficit, thanks to threes on back-to-back-to-back possessions by Beal, Otto Porter Jr., and then Beal again to take the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
Washington and New York treated the fans in London to a back-and-forth battle the rest of the way as both teams connected on tough shots to keep the other from pulling away. In the end, it wasn’t a big shot that decided the game, but rather the extended arm of Allonzo Trier. The referees called him for goaltending on Thomas Bryant’s layup with 0.4 seconds left, securing Washington’s sixth win in their last nine games.
The Wizards won their game in London on a goaltending call. pic.twitter.com/cXR548xkfN— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 17, 2019
Troy Brown Jr. shows how he can make a difference
Brown’s performance here will intensify the calls for him to get more minutes. His final stats don’t blow you away, and they came against the Knicks, who have one of the worst guard rotations in the league, but the point of the matter is he helped the Wizards get on track after floundering for most of the game. Even Bradley Beal voiced his support for Brown after arguably his best game so far as a Wizard.
Y’all heard me... “on his head!!!” https://t.co/WTPY5Z6t09— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) January 17, 2019
Otto Porter steps it up
This game was a reminder that Bradley Beal isn’t always going to be as red-hot as he’s been the last few weeks. When those games come, Washington’s low-usage, high-efficiency guys really need to be at the top of their game. Thankfully, Porter delivered with 20 points on 16 shots to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds in just under 35 minutes.
Now that Porter is back to playing a regular workload, and the team has now gotten through their most travel-intensive part of the season, it will be interesting to monitor how much longer Scott Brooks sticks with bringing Porter off the bench. Washington can’t afford too many games where Jeff Green is starting and only delivering 3 points and 3 rebounds without making a shot from the field.
Thomas Bryant needs a longer leash
I can understand to some extent why Scott Brooks didn’t play Thomas Bryant as much as he has in other recent games. The Knicks played small and that led to some defensive mismatches they exploited early in the game. On the other hand, it wasn’t one-side. His size and rolling ability created a lot of problems for New York that allowed them to get some early buckets and eventually got them the bucket they needed the most at the end of the game.
At this point, Bryant is too valuable to the team’s present to toy with his minutes like an expendable youngster. Washington has to ride out the lows, knowing that odds are even when he’s getting exploited in one area, he’s often making a difference in another spot.
Next up: The Wizards head back over the pond to get ready to host the Pistons on Monday afternoon at 2 pm Eastern Time.