The Wizards are a mess. A hot mess.
The team has underachieved for what feels like forever and its top players are reportedly on the trading block. All of them. Except nobody wants John Wall’s outrageous contract. Dwight Howard is out indefinitely with a lingering glute injury.
But the Wizards still beat the Knicks at the Garden, 110-107, on Monday night.
Tim Hardaway Jr. was toasted by Bradley Beal, who finished with 27 points in 38 minutes. Hardaway did fine offensively with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, but offense is never his problem. Beal’s backcourt mate, Wall, added 18 points and 15 assists.
“Top-five backcourt in the league,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “Obviously they’ve been a pain to a lot of people. It starts with the competition and really bringing a focus to every possession against them, understanding the game plan, know who you’re defending. Know their strengths, know their weaknesses. And then obviously it takes all five guys on the court when you’ve got two guys on the court like that.”
The Knicks (8-17) went with the same starting lineup that beat Memphis and Milwaukee, but they couldn’t replicate the fight against Washington (10-14). Courtney Lee, making his season debut following a tricky neck injury, blew a wide open lay-up with two minutes left that hurt New York’s chances.
The real killer was getting outscored in the third quarter, 34-19.
“As long as there’s time on the clock, our guys will fight to try to win the game. It’s crazy, because if you look at a couple of things down there – the layup, some free throws – and who knows what could have happened,” Fizdale said. “But at the end of the day, that third quarter was the death of us.”
Frank Ntilikina, the embattled second-year lottery pick, logged his second straight DNP, even while Trey Burke remained out with a sprained knee.
“He’s right there in the holster for me,” Fizdale said. “I’m always thinking about him or whoever the next guy can be that can help us. It just worked out the way it did.”
Damyean Dotson continued to impress off the bench, dropping 17 points with nine rebounds in 24 minutes. It’s been quite a revival for the 2017 second-round pick after being dropped from the rotation.
“I just think he keeps a clear head about everything,” Fizdale said. “I think he really has a way of compartmentalizing being in and out of the rotation no matter how many minutes he’s playing. He just kind of finds a way to keep himself ready. And that’s a real talent. I don’t know how many people can do that and handle it the way he does.”
The Knicks were coming off an emotional comeback overtime victory over the Bucks. Consider that momentum stopped.
Lee played 16 minutes and had seven points with five rebounds.
Burke, meanwhile, missed his second straight game with the sprained knee. He is inching closer to returning, although a week-by-week recovery seems more feasible than day-by-day. Burke suffered the injury in Saturday’s win over the Bucks.
“Much better,” Burke said about his health. “I don’t have a real update, I think by this weekend we’ll have a better understanding of a comeback. Honestly, I feel really good. (Sunday) was one of those days where I woke up in the morning and it was very sore. But today I don’t feel that soreness as much anymore.
“Obviously I still have to be cautious with it, take it day by day, but I’ve been doing a lot of rehab on it, a lot of cold, contrast, ice tub, cold tub, and I think that’s made any inflammation or swelling go down. So I’m feeling good as far as where I am right now.”