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Wizards, Wall control Knicks

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NEW YORK — Having point guard John Wall help re-establish their quick pace was an area of high importance for the Washington Wizards. Keeping their composure down the stretch also proved equally significant.

Wall totaled 24 points and 11 assists but also engaged in a shoving match with New York Knicks forward Quincy Acy with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter while the Wizards were on their way to a wire-to-wire 102-91 victory Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Wall already had his 17th double-double, the Wizards had been shooting better than 50 percent from the field, controlling the glass and paint when the incident occurred with 5:31 remaining. They had been in control because when Wall wasn’t driving to the lane for five layups, he was finding shooting guard Bradley Beal.

Beal added 17 points, including a corner 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter after Wall jumped past defenders Tim Hardaway Jr. and Amar’e Stoudemire.

“We were pushing the pace,” Wall said.

Wizards coach Randy Wittman said, “This is more of what we have to do and who we have been for the most part. We have big bodies, so we have to be the most physical team. We have to win the rebounding battle. We did those two things. We have to be a team of ball movement and that was evident.”

By the time Wall and Beal had asserted the pace for Washington, tempers flared. With the Wizards leading 91-80 with 5:31 remaining, Wall took exception to Acy fouling him in the face. Wall went down the near the left elbow after the foul and began shoving Acy.

Acy then appeared to retaliate with a left forearm to Wall’s face that looked to be a punch before forwards Nene and Kris Humphries along with referees Mark Lindsay and Kane Fitzgerald intervened to prevent further escalation.

“I was running down the court and thought he was going to give me a regular foul,” Wall said.

Washington forward Paul Pierce said, “It is a physical game. We always say if you don’t like physicality, go play golf.”

While Acy was assessed a flagrant foul-2 and ejected, the best news for the Wizards was Wall received only a technical foul and nobody came off the bench, which would have resulted in automatic suspensions.

“I think Quincy was trying to give him a good hard foul so he wouldn’t score,” New York coach Derek Fisher said. “He didn’t throw a punch at any point and hopefully the league will see it that way.”

After Acy’s ejection, Wall sank two foul shots for a 93-81 lead. On Washington’s next possession, forward Rasual Butler knocked down a 3-pointer for a 96-81 lead.

After Anthony’s 3-pointer rolled in and out with 3:32 remaining, he hit an 18-footer with 2:47 left that cut the deficit to 95-86. Center Marcin Gortat rolled to the hoop for an easy dunk on the next trip and Washington was never threatened again.

Acy’s ejection was the latest lowlight in a dreadful 31-game stretch for the Knicks. Forward Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, but New York couldn’t recover from the bad first quarter and a 60-44 halftime deficit.

The Knicks dropped lost their sixth straight and 16th in 17 games. With a 5-26 record, the Knicks are actually a full game behind the idle Philadelphia 76ers for last place in the Eastern Conference.

“They are one of the better transition teams that is out there,” Anthony said. “He (Wall) is able to get out in transition in the open court and create plays for his teammates. We got off to a cold start and we were fighting uphill from there.”

New York was dominated in the paint by a 50-30 margin, outrebounded 45-36 and made 4-of-22 3-pointers. The Knicks trailed by as many as 22 points and a few faint chants of “Fire Fisher” could be heard from fans sitting in the upper sections.

“It’s hard to point to one particular thing, but I think it is a accumulation of action that we are not executing offensively and defensively,” Stoudemire said.

NOTES: Knicks coach Derek Fisher said F Amar’e Stoudemire was experiencing some soreness in his knees, but it was not serious. Stoudemire was in the starting lineup Thursday after not playing last weekend and having recovery days during practices. … New York G J.R. Smith missed his eighth straight game with a partially torn left plantar fascia. Before the game, he was shooting 3-pointers and free throws and appeared to wince whenever a Knicks assistant coach served as a defender. … Washington made its 22nd appearance on Christmas Day and first since blowing a seven-point lead at Cleveland in the final minute of a 93-89 loss in 2008. … Wizards F Nene made his first start since Nov. 22 and finished with 12 points in 24 minutes. He had been a reserve for his last nine games.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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