When the Knicks host the Wizards tonight, the casual fan may think New York’s 13th-straight victory is already in the bag.
But the Wizards (29-48) aren’t your average league dreg. Since point guard John Wall was reinserted into the lineup following the knee injury that forced him to miss the first 40 games, Washington is a very respectable 23-20 – with wins over New York, Brooklyn and Miami. In fact, had Wall played the entire season (they started the year 4-28), and the Wizards had their full complement of players, it’s a safe bet they’d be firmly entrenched in a playoff spot, fighting for either the sixth, seventh or eighth seed.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson certainly does not take the Wizards lightly, and has repeatedly used that loss in Washington as a tool to keep his team sharp any time they play a lesser team.
“We went flat,” Woodson said, recalling that loss. “We were just there thinking we were going to show up and come out of there with a win, and it just didn’t happen. It was awful across the boards, starting at the top with me.”
The Wizards’ lone win in this series, 106-96 on Feb. 6, snapped the Knicks’ five-game winning streak, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Washington can upend favored New York again. Wall tortured Raymond Felton that game as he tallied 21 points, five rebounds, nine assists, and a steal as the Wizards had 36 points in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
» One safe bet is that Carmelo Anthony continues his 30-point stretch. While the Wizards have done a respectable job against the Knicks, Anthony has still averaged 27 points per game in those contests. And with the way Anthony is shooting these days, he may reach 27 points by the end of the third quarter. Should Anthony surpass the 30-point plateau again, it’ll be his fifth straight game doing so.
» Anthony was also named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Anthony, currently the top scorer in the league after outdueling Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant in Sunday’s win, is averaging 28.4 points per game. His torrid pace this past week featured three-straight games of at least 40 points, with a one-week average of 41.8 points. His scoring spree helped the Knicks go 4-0 last week. Anthony’s achievements this past week tied newly minted Hall of Famer Bernard King for the most consecutive 40-point games as a Knick — including a 50-point effort in Miami against the Heat last Tuesday.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.