Wall Pulls the Plug on the Knicks on National TV | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wall Pulls the Plug on the Knicks on National TV

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Updated: January 20, 2017

So, John Wall finally got a chance to showcase his dynamic skill set in front of a national TV audience—too bad that performance came after the NBA had determined the starters for the upcoming All-Star game in New Orleans.

Still, Wall put the NBA community on notice that there is something positive brewing in D.C., and if the league powers were smart, they would find a way to put Washington’s main man on TV more often.

The Wizards defeated the New York Knicks 113-110, amid controversy: Knicks players were griping (rightfully so) about Wizards assistant coach Sidney Lowe, who stepped onto the court and, allegedly, distracted Knick SG Courtney Lee as he passed up a potential game-trying 3-point attempt. The late-game dispute now overshadows what was a masterful performance from John Wall, and puts (another) small blemish on the NBA and its referees.

Lowe should have been assessed a technical foul in that situation, giving the Knicks an opportunity to go for a two-point shot to tie, or 3-point shot to win (pending a made technical free throw). Lowe can definitely expect to hear from the league office this week, but any future reprimand will not bring any solace to a Knicks organization that played yesterday’s game as if its season was on the brink.

It didn’t seem to matter to John Wall that the Knicks 2016-17 season was on life support, or perhaps he took great pleasure in pulling the proverbial plug with a vigorous sequence in the clutch—the stuff dreams are made of.

With the Wizards trailing 110-109 with 31 seconds left, Wall attacked the basket and was able to convert two free throws to put his team up 111-110. Carmelo Anthony missed a jumper, and New York’s players were helpless as Wall skied over two defenders for his fifth rebound of the night . . . which led to a one-man fast break dunk from Wall on the other end. Now with the Knicks down 110-113, Wall stripped Brandon Jennings in the final seconds to prevent the Knicks to even fire off a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

The end was nerve-wracking, and the lead up was just as agonizing. Washington blew a 13-point lead in the second-quarter—generally what happens when the Wizards second unit is on the court. Give credit to Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, who not only switched up his lineup rotation and had Porzingis coming off the bench (due to a minutes restriction from an Achilles injury), but also inserted Melo in time to feast on the Wizards’ second unit: he hung a Knickerbocker record 25 points in the quarter. Hornacek, here, was smart enough to realize that Carmelo was best-suited to playing the power forward against Washington—too mobile to be guarded by Markieff and Jason Smith, and too skilled to be guarded by Kelly Oubre.

Also: Give credit to Otto Porter for taking it upon himself to limit Carmelo as much as possible in the second half and drive him off of his spots. 

The bonus: As the minutes ticked down, it appeared as if playing on the second night of the back-to-back had finally caught up with the Wizards—they’re 1-7 in such situations coming into last night’s game (with the one win also coming against the Knicks). Wall and Co. at one point held a 14-point fourth quarter lead after straight blitzing the Knicks in the third quarter, 34-19. Washington persevered, though: Lucky that strong play to start the second half was enough to withstand a run from the Knicks in the fourth quarter, as the Wizards offense screeched to a halt with just 13 points in the final frame.

Building that third-quarter lead was a thing of a beauty for Wizards faithful to witness. John Wall was once again masterful at getting all of the Wizards’ players involved, finishing with 13 assists. Wall ran the Wizards bread and butter pick-and-roll action like a celebrity chef, and that ended in many Marcin Gortat dunks. When the Knicks decided to sag in the lane and take away Wall’s pocket pass, Optimus Dime was able to kick the ball out to the perimeter to a red-hot Otto Porter. Porter followed up his six 3-pointer performance against the Grizzlies with another six 3s. He’s now shooting 45.8 percent on 4.3 3-point attempts per game, making him one of the deadliest shooters in the NBA.

[Ed. note: Wall has assisted Porter on almost half of his made 3s this season.]

The Wizards were thankful to get a good performance from Otto because it more than made up for the fact that Bradley Beal basically no-showed the contest. Beal scored just eight points, and the 3-point marksmen went 0-for-7 on his shot attempts from behind the arc.

The Wizards are now 5-13 on the road.

“It’s good to get a road win,” Scott Brooks said afterward. “We’ve had so many last-second shots on the road that didn’t go our way. It’s nice to get a close-out.”

 

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.