The Reaction: Wizards Present Melo & Knicks with a Bowl of Cap'n Crunch for the Road
John Wall puffed his chest at Amar’e Stoudemire after the aging Knicks vet threw an extracurricular chicken wing his way. The boys scratched their antlers, marked their territory, did some flexing, and carried on. Later on, Amar’e, Carmelo, and throngs of Knicks fans would go quietly into the night. This is your reaction to a 106-96 Wizards win over the Knicks…
There were Twitter jokes aplenty about amped-up Verizon Center rim microphones picking up the clang of John Wall’s jumper—classic Wizznutzz. Wall missed two mid-rangers on the same possession, and later bricked a robotic-looking 3 with plenty of time and space. But he also made a key jumper from the elbow area late in the game after both he and the Knicks had time to learn sign language and then Amar’e Stoudemire had time to sign, ‘Hey, John Wall, go ahead and take that jumper, punk!’
Some of Wall’s six turnovers on the night were the worst. And the Internet will tell you that the artist formerly known as Fat Raymond Felton put Wall on the floor with a dribbling move. None of that matters in a win. Wall sliced and diced the Knicks with a speed often unseen on most NBA nights. He scored 21 points on 18 shots with a game-high plus-21, and he made all five of his free-throw attempts. He dropped nine dimes to five different teammates and three of them were for 3-pointers. He accounted for just under 40 percent of the Wizards’ points in 39 minutes of action.
John Wall made things happen. The Wizards sorely missed those things earlier this season. And now they’ve beaten one of the NBA’s top teams, the New York Knicks. But to get to that next level everyone is still waiting for, Wall will have to learn when to play under control. It’s still a skill that barely shows up on his resume. Oh yea, and that jumper.
Midway through the third quarter, the Knicks went on a 21-7 run that brought them from down nine points to up five. Iman Shumpert, Anthony and Felton all made 3s during the stretch. New York, in particular, set up Melo’s 3 with a high screen-and-roll that left him open directly at the top of the key. Trevor Ariza didn’t recover fast enough, and I don’t know how Emeka Okafor didn’t realize Anthony was seething to take that shot; Okafor left too much space on the help. Somehow John Wall stopped the bleeding by tipping in his own missed layup at the very end of the period. To start the fourth, Trevor Ariza nailed a corner 3, assist courtesy of Wall, and Anthony added a foul. Ariza’s four-point play suddenly gave the Wizards a lead that they would never relinquish.
L.V.P. / Jordan Crawford Watch
Jordan Crawford will eventually bust out of his slump. It’s bound to happen; the environment of this team is set up to give him more chances. That said, another night featuring six minutes, two missed shots, a rebound, and a foul ain’t good. Crawford entered the game early in the second quarter and immediately dribbled himself into being hassled and trapped by the Knicks. He quietly did some other things and checked out later to chew Skittles while keeping the bench warm for the rest of the night. When starting 2 guard Garrett Temple (16.5 minutes) wasn’t playing, Ariza and Martell Webster were the 2/3 combo of choice, spending 17 minutes on the court together in that role. Can’t blame Randy Wittman one bit, the duo combined to go 10-for-16 from 3-point land. On to the next one, J.C.
[Martell Webster, to John Wall’s rescue.]