With the acquisition of center Tyson Chandler, the New York Knicks hoped to enter the season with their own “Big Three”: Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Carmelo Anthony. Like many other recent “dream teams” in sports, the Knicks have started off slow winning only two of their first six. Tonight the story was different as Anthony, Stoudemire, and Chandler combined for 72 points in a 99-96 win over the Washington Wizards.
Unlike the Wizards’ previous game- where the team was doomed after starting the game 0-12 in the field, the Wiz played competitive all four quarters. The Wizards outscored the Knicks 32-18 in the opening quarter but cooled off towards halftime. The Knicks regained the lead early the third quarter but Washington kept it close. Nick Young missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that could of sent the game into overtime.
“They played hard- one thing they didn’t do was hang their head,” Coach Flip Saunders said after the game. Before the game he described it as a “must play hard” situation- and it looks like the Wizards did that at least.
Before practice on Thursday Maurice Evans called a players-only meeting where the players talked about their franchise-worst 0-6 start, aired out some grievances, and talked about being more accountable.
It looks like it worked- in my eyes the team played with hustle and energy we haven’t seen yet this year.
“I believe the talk we had, the sit down we had, got everything out in the air,” Young said in the locker room. Young led Washington with 24 points, many of them coming from John Wall who flashed his moves in the transition game. After starting the game with back-to-back fast-breaks that did not result in points, Wall found the connection with Young and the two combined for 22 points in that first quarter.
“First quarter me and Nick had it going,” Wall said after the game.
Also looking good on the floor was rookie Chris Singleton, known for his defense the Florida State alum showed some offense with a pair of dunks in the first half. He ended the night with 12 points.
Despite the valiant effort, Washington couldn’t solve Carmelo Anthony, who racked up 37 points. He carried the Knicks through early parts of the game where Amar’e Stoudemire struggled to find his shot (only landed two of his first seven attempts) and late in the game helped seal a victory with a three-pointer 15.9 seconds left in the game that put New York in the lead for good.
“That’s a prime example of getting beat by a pro player,” Saunders said.
The next two games are against Minnesota and Toronto, two very winnable games if the Wizards come back to the floor with the same kind of hustle they brought out today.