The Wizards (40-36) already clinched their playoff berth for the
first time since 2008 with a win in their previous game, and did all
they could to make sure the Knicks (33-44) fell in the standings
after briefly holding on to the eighth and final playoff seed
following Wednesday night's win.
Center Marcin Gortat said he takes great delight in playing — and
winning — at Madison Square Garden.
"Everybody wants to play in this arena and everybody wants to win in
this arena," Gortat said. "It's a great place to win. This was a
good game for us to try and get ready for the playoffs.
"Tonight was playoffs basketball. It was a good game. They were a
little bit physical, but we made sure to play our style of
basketball. It was a great win for us."
Washington was led by shooting guard Bradley Beal, who had 28 points
(19 in the second half), and point guard John Wall, who had 19
points and nine assists, including 11 points and five assists in the
Gortat, who had his troubles on the defensive end any time the
Knicks went to small-ball, acquitted himself nicely on the offensive
end by chipping in with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
He took great pleasure in giving Knicks center Tyson Chandler, a
former league Defensive Player of the Year, all he could handle.
"Obviously, I want to take that challenge every time," Gortat said.
"I want to go up against guys who've won the Defensive Player of the
Year. I want to challenge them and go at them and see where we're at
[at the end of the game]. I'm always fighting for my respect."
Beal certainly has the Knicks' respect, as he nailed the eventual
game-winner for the second-straight appearance at the Garden.
The former University of Florida star converted a couple of huge
plays down the stretch.
He converted a three-point play after he dunked on shooting guard JR
Smith and nailed the free throw with 2:16 left to give the Wizards
an 86-84 lead.
The and-one followed an ill-advised 3-pointer by Smith, who then
compounded matters by fouling a streaking Beal in the act of the
Beal followed that by making a 15-foot jumper with 22.9 seconds
remaining in regulation to give the final margin of victory.
Washington's head coach, Randy Wittman, marveled at the 20-year
"When a guy gets hot like that, you've got to ride the pony,"
Despite the defensive breakdown in the final stages of the game,
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson still thought his squad played
impressive lock-down defense.
"Guys were committed and were locked in, as they've been throughout
this stretch and it should've been the difference," said Woodson.
"Our defense was pretty solid. Our guys competed and it was a
hard-fought game. Both teams struggled to shoot the ball ... we just
[to top of second column]
Woodson said he felt confident down the stretch, especially after a
key sequence that ended with a clutch 3-pointer from point guard
Small forward Carmelo Anthony, who suffered through his worst
performance of the season, made a big assist when he passed out of a
triple-team and found Felton all alone on the wing.
The ailing lead guard deftly nailed a 3-pointer with just 33.5
seconds remaining in regulation. The bucket gave the Knicks an 89-88
Alas, the sequence came in vain, as Anthony had a chance for the win
in the waning seconds following Beal's shot but lost control of the
ball, leaving Smith to heave a desperation 3-pointer at the horn
that was off the mark.
That was about the only time Smith fell short as he carried the
Knicks' offense. The often-erratic swingman had a game-high 32
points, including 19 in the first half, on 12-of-22 shooting. He
also knocked down a game-high eight 3s, which were three more than
what the entire Wizards' roster could produce.
NOTES: The Wizards swept the season series, making it just the
second time ever that has happened. ... Washington earned its 20th
road win of the season, the first time since the 1982-82 season. ...
SG J.R. Smith continued his torrid stretch by knocking down a
game-high eight 3s. ... Smith has been on a tear since he was
inserted into the starting lineup on March 3. Heading into tonight's
game, the mercurial shooting guard had started the last 16 games and
averaged 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He's also shot
46 percent from the field, including 42 percent behind the arc. ...
Wizards SG Bradley Beal has been equally impressive as a starter, as
the second-year player came into the game averaging a respectable
16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists, while knocking down 42
percent of his 3-pointers. ... PF Amar'e Stoudemire continued his
hot streak by scoring 12 of his 16 points in the third quarter. ...
Knicks' PG Raymond Felton, who suffered contused ribs and back after
a hard fall on Wednesday, made the start. Although he dished out
seven assists, he added very little else by registering just nine
points on 2-of-8 shooting. ... Knicks' head coach Mike Woodson said
during his pre-game press conference that neither PF Kenyon Martin
nor PF Andrea Bargnani have gotten back on the practice court yet
and is still "not sure" if either will return this season.
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.