Washington, DC—The last few games the NY Knicks have been playing better defense on perimeter and hope it will transcend in some wins.
Julius Randle scored 24 points and a season-high 18 boards as the New York Knickerbockers beat the Washington Wizards 109-91 on Friday night at the Capitol One Arena.
Russell Westbrook, who played without the NBA’s leading scorer Bradley Beal, had 23 points to lead the Wizards.
Westbrook found Alex Len for dunks on the Washington’s first two buckets of the contest, but an 11-0 run by the Knickerbockers minutes later put the Wizards in an bind early. Westbrook finished the first quarter with five points, three rebounds and three assists, but Washington were down 30-23 going into the second quarter. Both teams struggled in the second, combining for just 42 points and 2-12 (.166) from downtown.
“Definitely gotta take advantage,” Julius Randle said before the game. “First night of a back-to-back, we want to get off to a good start. So we definitely gotta take advantage and come in with the right focus.”
Derrick Rose chipped in 14 points in twenty minutes off the bench in his second game for New York, stopping a two-game skid but lost center Mitchell Robinson to a fractured right hand.
Garrison Mathews, who started in place of Beal, and Davis Bertans combined to hit three 3-pointers in the first 2:30 of the second half, part of a 13-5 run that pulled the Wizards within three points of the lead. Bertans finished the night 2-6 (.333) from 3-point range and has now hit multiple threes in each of the last eight games. Washington, however, struggled to maintain the momentum and never got any closer to the lead. Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley combined for 17 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Knicks pull away and secure a late win.
If NY is serious about making the playoffs, these are the games they have to compete and win. The Wizards were resting their best player, Bradley Beal, who leads the league in scoring but played bad on defense.
The Knicks (12-15) dominated the Wizards (6-17) inside, with a 58-42 advantage in the paint and a 65-46 edge in rebounding. Robinson had 10 points and 14 rebounds, all in the first half, but was injured just before halftime when his hand collided with Randle’s elbow while trying to block Rui Hachimura’s shot. Robinson will be re-evaluated when the team returns to New York.
Randle was the spark plug in the win, boosting his All-Star bid and balancing a poor performance from RJ Barrett (8 points, 3-for-13) from the floor.
“In the NBA, I think it’s very difficult because every player is a great player,” Knicks Tom Thibodeau said. “You can’t get here without being a great player, so the important thing for us is to not let our guard down at all.”
Washington shot 38.2% overall and 9 of 34 (26.5%) from 3-point range against the league’s best scoring defense.
“We’re not shooting it great, and that happens, but we cannot let that affect the defensive end,” said Washington Garrison Mathews. It’s a want-to. It’s how hard you want to do it.”
The Wizards got within three points halfway through the third quarter, but Randle responded with a 3-pointer and the Knicks cruised in third and fourth quarters with a 14-0 run to put the game away.
Rose’s backcourt mate with the second unit, Immanuel Quickley, added 16 points in 22 minutes.
“Effort is very important. We’ve got to take pride in defending, take pride in protecting our home court, just take individual pride,” Westbrook said. “One thing I’m not going to do is give up or give in to our record or anything else that’s going on.”
Knicks: Host Houston on Saturday night.
Wizards: Host Boston on Sunday.