NEW YORK — Earlier this season, the Washington Wizards had lost to good teams and average teams. Last night they showed that they are fair game for even league slugs, falling to the lowly New York Knicks 102-82 at Madison Square Garden.
In the process, the Wizards (3-4) tied an NBA record already held by three other teams by going 0-for-15 from behind the 3-point line.
"That's a recipe for destruction," reserve guard Antonio Daniels said. "When you don't shoot the ball well and then you don't rebound it, that's what's going to happen. How often is this team gong to go 0-for-15 from 3? You pick yourself up and you move on, and that's exactly what we have to do."
New York (3-6) kept the listless Wizards winless on the road (0-3), beating them in every facet of the game. The Knicks exploited the Wizards, out-rebounding them 52-39. They held the Wizards to their worst shooting performance of the season, 31.5 percent and forced them into a season-high 17 turnovers. Plus, New York's bench outscored the Wizards by a whopping 45-15.
Factor in all of that plus the fact that the Wizards made just seven field goals in the second half, and this was about as bad as the Wizards have played in some time.
Following the rout, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said that the Knicks, who won at home for the first time this season, were superior in every aspect of the game, especially in the mental department. He was upset that the Wizards appeared more interested in arguing calls with officials than making a respectable attempt to prevent one of the league's laughingstocks from pulling off the rout.
"It wasn't a good night for the way we approached the game. I thought the mental aspect of it, we lost it," Jordan said. "The worse we got mentally offensively, the worse we got defensively. At the same time [the Knicks] kept the energy up. We've got to get our guys to clear our heads. You can't play basketball if you are thinking about whether the officiating is poor or if you miss a shot. You've got to play the other end just as hard, and we don't seem to do that right now."
Gilbert Arenas led the Wizards with 22 points. Antawn Jamison scored 20 and Caron Butler added 18. But the team's so-called Big Three shot just 16-for-48 from the floor.
New York rookie Renaldo Balkman, who was booed when he was announced as the Knicks' first pick in last summer's draft (20th overall), scored a career-high 18 points. The Knicks also got a double-double out of back-up big man David Lee (10 points, 15 rebounds).
Despite playing lethargically through the first three quarters, the Wizards were still in position to win at the start of the fourth quarter, when they trailed by just eight points.
But any hope of a comeback disappeared in a horrid fourth quarter. The Wizards shot 4-for-20 from the floor, got out-rebounded 21-6 and didn't record a single assist.
"You're going to have nights like that," Jamison said with resignation. "But good teams find a way to get it done. There comes a time when you have to find a way to rebound and buckle down and get some rebounds. ... [The Knicks] crashed the boards, guys like Balkman and Lee. That's why they were successful."
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