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Knicks fourth quarter defense was the turning point in defeating the Wizards

4:10 PM, Mar 2, 2013   |    comments
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(WUSA9) -- It wasn't a lack of effort. It wasn't an inability to respond to adversity. Simply put, it was another night of growing pains for the revamped Washington Wizards in their 96-88 loss to the New York Knicks. In their second matchup of the season against the team from the Big Apple, the Wizards made costly turnovers in transition and missed free throws down the stretch that could have altered the outcome of the game.

"Against a team like this you cant miss 10 free throws," said Coach Wittman.

In a game of runs, New York got the one that mattered most towards the end of the game, led by Raymond Felton's 23 points. Felton slashed through the lane following a high ball screen set by Tyson Chandler and sought aerial contact with John Wall as he knocked down a floater to put the Knicks ahead by 6 with 53 seconds remaining.

Here's a few take away from the game.

Washington shined when John Wall was putting defenders on their heels throughout the majority of the night. Between Jason Kidd's age and Raymond Felton's slow feet, the Knicks point guards had no shot at staying in front of arguably the leagues fastest guard. With John, there's "good" John & there's "bad" John. "Bad" John was on display Wednesday night in a loss against the Pistons, as he rarely penetrated the lane, was a turnover machine, and sulked on the bench after sitting on the pine the majority of the fourth quarter due to his sporadic play. "Good" John came to play against the top team in the Atlantic Division Friday night, with 16 points and 6 assists to show for it.  Fellow North Carolina native Raymond Felton knows all to well what "good" John is capable of, "I've known John for a long time, I've seen him grow. He's one of the best point guards in this league and he's just coming off of injury. Their success is because he's back. Raymond is right, as the Wizards have nearly tripled their win total in the 23 games he's been back compared to the 33 games he was absent.  Wall defense was lackluster at moments against Felton, but it's offensively where his impact was felt. Following the Wizards 44 rebounds, many of them led to John Wall fast breaks and points in the open court. A stark transition from the "bad" John Wall that's been on display following the All Star break. Wall is conscience if his poor play of late, a good sign, as self-recognition is generally the first step to improving admitted flaws. " I think I was being to passive lately. The last couple of games I turned it over too much and was being passive. I wanted to be more aggressive, and also look for my teammates."

Washington faded when they allowed the Knicks to finish the first half on a 9-0 run largely in part to JR Smith feeling it from beyond the arc, going into the locker-room down 54-48.

Washington shined when their rookie star Bradley Beal came out hot in the third quarter, scoring 12 of his career high 29 points. Washington was down 11 and went on a 16-2 run putting the home team up 72-69 in front of the "home" crowd filled with Knick fans. Beal went 4-7 from three and aggressively looked for his shot. That's the key to beating New York. The Knicks outshot Washington 13-6 from the three-point line by half time, further indicating that you have to outshoot them if you want to get the better hand against them.  The flourishing backcourt of Wall & Beal is at it's best when John penetrates and finds Beal hovered around the three point line. His confidence is growing by the minute, and as the team's leader in minutes, that's a good sign for Wizards fans. J.R. Smith who also made the jump to the league at an early age had high praise for the young guard, " I mean he's great, other then (Damian) Lillard, he's probably Rookie of the Year. The way he shoots the ball, he's aggressive, he can play defense. He pretty much has it all.

Washington faded when Chris Singleton was on the court. In what's become musical chairs between Singleton and Ariza for who starts in the lineup, Wittman should give Singleton the seat and Ariza the start. Why? Because in 20 minutes, Singleton had 0 points and one rebound. In 33 minutes, Ariza earned 15 points, five assists and six rebounds. Need I say more? 

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