The Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks 116-105 on Wednesday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down…
When asked after Monday’s loss to the Warriors what was needed for a turnaround, several Wizards players said they simply needed Bradley Beal to come back. They knew his return was imminent and felt the three-time All-Star would help them find the winning formula. It was only one game, but the Wizards got off to a good start backing that up.
Beal came back on Wednesday night in New York and the Wizards beat the Knicks, snapping a two-game skid and getting retribution for a loss to the same team last week in D.C. Kyle Kuzma led the way with 27 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. Kristaps Porzingis added 22 points, 11 boards and two blocks.
The Wizards moved to 19-26 on the season with the victory. They will come back home to host the Magic on Saturday before heading back out on the road for five games.
The Wizards welcomed back Beal following a five-game absence due to a left hamstring strain and it went much better than the last time he returned from the same injury. That’s because he was able to make it through this one unscathed, playing a total of 28 minutes in the Wizards’ win. Beal was sharp, too, with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Beal made his first two shots, as the Wizards did a nice job getting him the ball in stride en route to open spots on the floor.
The Wizards will now hope Beal is here to stay and that there are no setbacks with the injury or any other injuries that crop up. He’s had a tough go of it in the health department over the past two seasons. If you recall, Beal had some injury issues early in his career that he was able to get past, playing in 77 games in 2016-17 and then in all 82 the next two seasons. Perhaps Beal can pull from that experience to achieve durability again.
Hot from 3
One persistent problem for the Wizards this season has been 3-point shooting on the road. Before this game, they were 30th out of 30 teams both in road threes made (9.4/g) and percentage (31.3%). At home, they were 10th-best in percentage (37.5%) and 14th in threes made (12.4). Washington bucked that trend in this game, making 16 threes on 42 attempts, good for 38.1%.
They wasted no time, either. The Wizards had seven threes in the first quarter and 10 by halftime. Kuzma and Porzingis led the way with four threes apiece, while Monte Morris had three of them and Deni Avdija each made two. The Knicks are fourth in 3-point percentage allowed this season, but also give up the sixth-most threes of any team. The Wizards were able to take advantage.
Randle held in check
When the Wizards played the Knicks last week, both Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle went off in the second half to lead New York to a win. Brunson had another good game in this one, but the Wizards were able to limit Randle and that made a significant difference. Randle, a one-time All-NBA selection, topped out at 14 points on 6-for-17 shooting. Randle shot 0-for-5 from deep.
Much of the credit for that goes to Porzingis and Daniel Gafford, who did a better job matching the Knicks’ physical style of play than they did last week. The Knicks still won the paint battle, 66-to-44, but the Wizards made up for it from long range. New York shot just 7-for-26 from beyond the arc.
Sharing the ball
The Wizards enjoyed a huge advantage in the assists category, which was part a reflection of how the Knicks play a lot in isolation and part an indication of the Wizards’ ball movement. They had 28 assists compared to 14 for New York, a discrepancy head coach Wes Unseld Jr. will take any time he can get it.
Unseld Jr. considers 30 assists a magic number for the Wizards and, while they didn’t get there in this one, they achieved the desired effect. The ball movement helped them find open shots on the perimeter and they took quite a few of them. This was the third straight game the Wizards have attempted at least 35 threes.