By Dave Johnson
Sadly for the Washington Wizards, John Wall’s 33 points were
lost in a loss
. The New York Knicks clinched their first division title since 1994 on the strength of 20 three-point field goals in a 120-99 win over the Wizards.
Here is today’s Wizards Report:
The Wizards continue their challenging run of games against Eastern Conference playoff teams with the Miami Heat at home tonight.
Coverage of the Wizards and Heat from Verizon Center begins at 6:45 on the Washington Wizards Radio Network.
The Wizards had a 21-10 advantage in made free throws. It didn’t matter. The Knicks were 20 of 36 from three-point distance. Reigning NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week Carmelo Anthony played three quarters and scored 36 points. Anthony scored 21 of his points in the third quarter when the Knicks outscored the Wizards 37-28.
“We know they are a great three-point shooting team and we have to run them off of the line. Too many turnovers and they got out in transition, got open looks. They moved the ball great and we didn’t do a good job of rotating and chasing people off of the three-point-line. I think they shot 60 percent from the three-point line and it’s tough to beat a team that’s on a streak like they (Knicks) are right now. We really didn’t play any defense.”
To get to 33 points Wall was not forcing the issue or taking bad shots. Wall was very efficient and was 11 of 19 from the field and 11 of 14 from the free throw line. The basketball savvy crowd at Madison Square Garden was impressed with Wall’s jump shot and explosive drives to the basket.
Like they did in Boston, the Wizards struggled to get the ball inside. At halftime Nene and Emeka Oakfor combined to score only one point, a Nene free throw, and both were 0 for 2 from the field. Going forward, the Wizards need to establish Nene and Okafor early to help open the floor and take the scoring pressure off Wall.
The Heat own the NBA’s best overall record, passing the San Antonio Spurs during a 27-game winning streak that lasted from early February to late March. Miami’s streak ranks second in all-time winning steaks, just six games behind the 1971-72 Lakers.
Miami will be playing the second of a back-to-back Wednesday against the Wizards. The Heat defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 94-83 in Miami despite Brandon Jennings dropping 30 points on the Heat. Jennings was the only Bucks player in double digits. LeBron James led the heat with 28 points, while Udonis Haslem led all rebounders with 15.
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade both missed Tuesday’s game and will likely miss Wednesday’s as well for precautionary reasons. Wade has sat out the last four due to injuries in his right knee and ankle. The Heat clinched the number one spot in the East back on March 30 and don’t want to take any chances as the playoffs approach. Miami is also considering shutting Wade down for the remainder of the regular season.
Bosh is recovering from a hyper-extended right knee and is also dealing with flu-like symptoms. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Bosh would not make the trip to Washington “unless he gets dramatically better.”
The Heat has also made strong additions during the season. They signed Chris “Birdman” Andersen at the end of January. In 36 games, Anderson is averaging 9.5 RPG and his 2.3 BPG ranks him first on the team among rotation members.
For a long time LeBron James was criticized for not hitting game-winning shots, but this season he has silenced those critics. Some of James’ clutch moments include a go-ahead layup with 3.2 seconds left in a March game against the Magic and a game-winning shot against the Boston Celtics with 10 seconds left after they nearly ended their winning streak.
Miami closed out the month of March with a strong 88-86 victory in San Antonio without James or Wade. Players such as Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Norris Cole and Mike Miller all stepped up by scoring in double figures.