NEW YORK — The New York Knicks desperately needed a win to keep pace in the playoff race, but the Washington Wizards had other ideas in a last-second 90-89 victory on Friday night.
The Wizards (40-36) already clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008 with a win in its
previous game and did all they could to make sure the Knicks (33-44) fell in the standings after briefly holding on to the eighth and final playoff seed after Wednesday night’s win.
Washington was led by shooting guard Bradley Beal, who had 28 points, and point guard John Wall, who had 19 points and nine assists, including 11 points and five assists in the first half.
Center Marcin Gortat, who had trouble on the defensive end every time the Knicks went to small-ball, chipped in with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Beal made a couple of huge plays down the stretch. He converted a three-point play after he dunked on shooting guard JR Smith and nailed the free throw with 2:16 left to give the Wizards an 86-84 lead. The and-one followed an ill-advised 3-pointer by Smith, who then compounded
matters by fouling a streaking Beal in the act of the dunk.
Beal followed by making a 15-foot jumper with 22.9 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Wizards a 90-89 lead.
That shot followed a sequence by the Knicks that ended with a clutch 3-pointer from point guard Raymond Felton.
Small forward Carmelo Anthony, who suffered through his worst performance of the season, made a big assist when he passed out of a triple-team and found Felton all alone on the wing. Felton nailed the 3-pointer with 33.5 seconds remaining in regulation for an 89-88 Knicks lead.
Alas, the sequence was in vain. Anthony had a chance for the win in the waning seconds after Beal’s basket, but he lost control of the ball, leaving Smith to heave a desperation 3-pointer at the horn that was off the mark.
That was about the only time Smith fell short as he carried the Knicks’ offense. The often-erratic
swingman had a game-high 32 points, including 19 in the first half, on 12-of-22 shooting from the field. He also knocked down a game-high eight 3-pointers, which were three more than the Wizards’ total from behind the arc.
Anthony finished with just 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the field, including 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, and had eight rebounds, four steals and a game-high nine turnovers. He appeared to favor his right shooting shoulder for most of the night after he aggravated it in
the opening quarter.
Anthony was held scoreless in the second quarter and did not score again until 4:34 remained in the fourth quarter when he drained a mid-range jumper to close the Knicks’ deficit to a point.
The action picked up for both teams in the pivotal fourth quarter as the Knicks finished the night shooting 44.7 percent from the field and the Wizards converted on 48.7 percent — a far cry from the 39 percent shooting that both squads endured in the first half.
NOTES: Since SG JR Smith was inserted into the starting lineup on March 3, he has been on a tear — for him anyway. Heading into Friday night’s game, the mercurial shooting guard has started the last 16 games and has averaged 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He also shot 46 percent from the field, including 42 percent behind the arc. … Wizards SG Bradley Beal has been equally impressive as a starter. The second-year player came into the game averaging a respectable 16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists while making 42 percent of his 3-point shots. … Knicks PG Raymond Felton, who had a nasty fall on Wednesday that resulted in bruised ribs and back, started. … Knicks coach Mike Woodson said during his pregame press conference that neither PF Kenyon Martin nor PF Andrea Bargnani have returned to the practice court and is still “not sure” whether either will return this season.
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