Jacob Raim - WashingtonWizards.com
The Wizards put forth what might be considered their most complete effort of the year in taking down one of the hottest teams in the NBA, the Knicks. Here are some thoughts on the game:
1. 48 Minutes
Complete performances have not come that often for the Wizards this year but tonight was certainly one of them. They did not have a letdown quarter, the Knicks only went on one extended run (the end of the third) and the Knicks never led the game by more than five. The offense never fell into much of a stagnant state as John Wall made sure the ball kept moving all night. Three point shooters, particularly Webster and Ariza, were getting good looks because of that ball movement. The result was 106 points, 53% shooting, 55% 3 point shooting and a game where the Wizards out played one of the best teams in the NBA.
2. Three Point Shooting
The Knicks are on pace to break the record for most three pointers made in a season. They make, and take, more threes than any other team in the NBA. Last night the Wizards took eight fewer threes than the Knicks, which was to be expected. But what was not expected was the fact that the Wizards still made two more. No, it is not every night that two guys will be as hot as Webster and Ariza were from beyond the arc, as they combined to shoot 10/16 from long range. The fact is they were getting good looks all night. The Knicks did not do a great job closing out three point shooters and as mentioned before, the Wizards ball movement was excellent. New York shot 9/28 from three, good for 32%, below their season average of 38%.
3. Webster and Ariza
Speaking of three point shooting, Webster and Ariza were incredible last night. Webster continued his hot shooting ways and Ariza continued to be a scoring option off the bench, scoring in double figures for the fourth time in five games. Webster shot 5/9 from three and had 19 points; Ariza shot 5/7 from three and had 20 points. With Beal out, the scoring slack has to be picked up by somebody and tonight it was from the two small forwards. They actually played together for much of the game, particularly down the stretch, with Webster at the two and Ariza at the three. Ariza also did a solid job on Carmelo Anthony on the defensive end. Anthony had 31 points but it was on a very high volume of shots and Ariza did not allow Anthony to beat the Wizards down the stretch.
4. Wall Breaking Down the D
John Wall played an exceptional game last night, scoring 21 points and dishing out nine assists. He was consistently breaking down the Knicks defense with drives to the hoop and forcing them to collapse on him, leaving open jump shooters on the wings to kick to. He was a huge reason Webster and Ariza found so much success from long distance. The Knicks started giving him much more space later in the game and while his jumper was not on, he took advantage of it to find good looks for others. Wall also played 39 minutes and the entire fourth quarter, leading to the conclusion that there are no more limitations.
5. Singleton's Back
Back in the rotation that is. Last night Singleton played 22 minutes including crucial minutes in the fourth quarter. He had 10 points on 4/5 shooting and was very effective at the four on defense against the Knicks small ball lineup. With the Knicks not going with a true post player, Singleton handled the four and defended well, helping on Anthony and controlling the Knicks pick and roll offense.
6. Chandler's Quest for 20
Tyson Chandler was looking to become the first player in over 10 years to get at least 20 rebounds in four consecutive games and Washington did not allow him to do it, "holding" him to 13. Chandler is an absolute menace on the boards (11.3 per game) and has been unstoppable of late. It was Nene and Okafor who had the responsibility of putting the body on him and they controlled his impact on the glass to a more reasonable level than of late.