- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2008

NEW YORK | If ever a team needed to catch a break this season, it’s the Washington Wizards. That break seemed to have come Friday when the New York Knicks traded away their top two scorers, Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph.

The trade left the Knicks with only seven players to dress against the visiting Wizards on Saturday. And despite having its own share of injuries, Washington had 12 players available and appeared to have depth on its side.

Yeah, so much for that. The Wizards found themselves outrunned and outgunned in a 122-117 loss after failing to maintain a fourth-quarter lead for a third straight game.

The Knicks had five double-digit scorers; four of them scored at least 20 points. Quentin Richardson led the way with 34, including seven 3-pointers; Nate Robinson added 27, Wilson Chandler 23 and David Lee 22.

To make matters worse, the 5-foot-9 Robinson finished with six rebounds - more than all but two Wizards players.

With the loss, Washington fell to 1-10, equaling the worst start in franchise history, which the Baltimore Bullets set in 1966.

“I’ve never been 1-10,” Wizards captain Antawn Jamison said. “I wasn’t 1-10 at Golden State, and we won [17] games one year. I have no idea.”

The Wizards endured another slow start and led only for a 51-second span in the first quarter. They battled from behind all game long and trailed by 14 with 6:27 left in the third quarter. But the Wizards clawed their way back to take a 94-93 lead on a 3-pointer from Jamison with 10:46 left in the fourth.

The Knicks (7-6) took the lead at 100-97 on a 3-pointer from Robinson with 7:40 to go, and the game suddenly became a shootout featuring big shots and acrobatic takes to the basket on both ends of the court.

The only problem for Washington: The Knicks’ big shots were from the perimeter, and the Wizards’ weren’t. Also, the Wizards couldn’t get a stop or a key rebound down the stretch.

“They made some 3s that got the momentum back and they felt good,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “It’s a different way to play, and it’s a unique way to play and it’s been very effective for [New York coach Mike D’Antoni] and it’s hard to get a feel for it if you cannot answer. We just didn’t answer their 3s and some of their rolls to the basket.”

Jamison led the Wizards with 29 points and 13 rebounds, Caron Butler tallied 23 and reserve Nick Young added 17.

The Knicks torched the Wizards for 16 3-pointers. Richardson led the assault with 18 first-quarter points on 6-for-7 shooting from 3-point range. His six first-quarter 3-pointers tied a league record, which former Celtics and Raptors guard Dee Brown set in 1999.

The Knicks led by as many as 11 points twice in the first quarter, the second of which came when Anthony Roberson’s fast-break layup lifted his team to a 30-19 lead with 2:34 left in the first. Washington closed out the quarter on a 10-5 run to pull within six.

In the second, Robinson went on the attack. The 5-foot-9 guard scored 13 of New York’s 25 second-quarter points. And although the Wizards scored 29 in the second, the Knicks remained ahead 60-58 at halftime and led most of the rest of the way.

“It’s tough, man, to be down 1-10, be in every game down the stretch except for a couple and not be able to execute down the stretch,” guard Juan Dixon said. “They make shots; we don’t. I have no idea why. Every team we play, they make shots and we can’t throw it in the ocean.”

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