With the NBA’s leading scorer in Bradley Beal resting, the Washington Wizards needed Russell Westbrook, who finished one rebound shy of a triple-double, to be all of his superstar self, and he didn’t disappoint. Westbrook was directly involved in Washington’s first eleven points — he twice found Alex Len and dished one assist to Rui Hachimura, scored a contested layup off a steal, hit a tough jumper and drained one free throw. Number four led the team with 23 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
But outside of the electric guard, the Wizards couldn’t score; Washington made their first three at the 5:21 mark of the first quarter, courtesy of Troy Brown Jr., and finished the first shooting 2–10 from behind the arc. Shoddy rebounding also contributed to the seven-point deficit the Wizards found themselves in.
A promising six-two run to start the second quickly evaporated as Obi Toppin scored four points, which forced Wizards Head Coach Scott Brooks to call for a timeout with his team down seven. When the Knicks’ lead grew to 11, Brooks called for another stoppage of play. As the second wore on, the Wizards continued to come up short on offense. At the end of the half, they were 4–20 from three and 17–46 from the field. Despite improving on the glass and limiting turnovers (seven), Washington went into the break down 53–42.
With it being almost statistically impossible to shoot worse than they did in the first half, Davis Bertans made an early three, and Garrison Mathews — who made his first career start tonight — followed suit with two deep shots. Westbrook also hit a pair of jumpers and Hachimura added two free throws. At the 6:35 mark of the third, the Wizards trailed by just four. But five quick points by the visitors cooled Washington’s momentum, and the last two minutes saw New York push their lead to 15 following a 9–0 run. Julius Randle, who had a game-high 24 points and 18 rebounds, and Derrick Rose (14 points and six assists) effectively ended any hope of a Wizards win.
And the bleeding didn’t stop there, the Wizards missed their first three shots of the fourth, as the Knicks upped the lead to 20. With the seconds ticking away, the home side grew more and more disjointed — they forced the ball, lost possession and couldn’t make a shot. Mathews finished with 14 points, while Brown Jr. and Hachimura had 10 apiece. The silver lining from this pitiful offensive output is that they are bound to improve on Sunday against the Celtics. Let’s hope Valentine’s Day brings some love to the nation’s capital.