By Wole Akinso
Washington, DC— The Washington Wizards got physically beat down by the New York Knicks 120-99; giving them their third loss in the NBA In-Season Tournament. Capital One Arena was a pro New York Knicks crowd. The Knicks jumped on the Wizards 16-4 in the first quarter and the Knicks faithful were going crazy. During that stretch, the Wizards best players Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole where 0 for 3 from the field and a turnover. Kuzma finished the game going 8 for 21 from the field, scoring 19 points but Poole struggled against the Knicks tough defense.
Poole went 2 for 11 from the field with a total of eight points, Friday night. He is shooting 39.5% from the field in the month of November. Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. talked about Poole’s struggles after the game.
“I got to find ways to, you know, maybe take some pressure off him you know. They blitzed him a little bit tonight. You know teams are really physical with him. And you know to his credit, he keeps working. He puts a ton of work in his shot. So I think it’s just, you know, a matter of time before it breaks and he hasn’t seen the result, you know, thus far. That’s where we as a group have to find ways to make it easy for him.”
The Knicks used their physicality to hinder the Wizards’ offensive sets. Wizards guard Tyus Jones was asked about the physicality of the Knicks’ defensive.
“They’re a really good half court defensive team. That’s what they hang their hat on and again they are a playoff team. They’ve done it for a few years now. They know their system. They know their schemes. They know that physicality. They know when to raise the level of intensity.”
The bright spot for the Wizards was the play of forward Deni Avdija. He played strong and forceful all night. Avdija was efficient scoring 18 points on only 11 shot attempts. Avdija seems more confident this season.
“I think I’m just shooting more confident and I stopped like counting. I’m shooting to make, not to shoot. So, I feel like I made a little adjustment mentally too, said Avdija.”
Avdija was one of the catalysts who helped the Wizards cut a 57-37 Knicks’ lead in the second quarter to a 95-90 Knicks’ lead in the fourth quarter. However, Knicks guards Jalen Brunson and Immanuel Quickley were having any of that. They closed the Wizards out in the fourth quarter combining for 24 points in the quarter. Brunson finished the game with 32 points and Quickley scored 27 points.
The Wizards will be taking on Dame Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, next Monday at Capital One Arena. They will also travel to Milwaukee to play the Bucks in Wizards’ fourth in-season tournament game, next Friday. The Wizards are 0-3 in the tournament.