Humility a key ingredient in Wizards recent turnaround - Humility a key ingredient in Wizards recent turnaround -

Humility a key ingredient in Wizards' recent turnaround -

04 Dec, 2018

NEW YORK -- The Wizards and Knicks met Monday for the fourth time since Oct. 1.

Only two of those games counted in the regular season standings. For all its roster inexperience, New York consistently showed one trait in those matchups: scrappiness. Thats not something Washington demonstrated often this season. Its an aspect that showed in the second half and helped carry them to a second consecutive win. There would be no war of words, another similarity among those three earlier games. The basketball carried the day. Entering the third quarter trailing 61-52, the Wizards emerged from the halftime locker room assertive. The casual focus will center on the offense seeing as Washington opened the period with a 20-4 run, taking the lead for good in that stretch that included baskets from distance and at the rim. The defensive intensity, thats the real story, even if the stretch didnt extend the entire half.

They held the Knicks to five points over the opening seven minutes and 27.3 percent shooting in the quarter. Six of New Yorks 16 turnovers occurred in the period. All of this came after Washington held Brooklyn to 88 points in Saturdays home win. That second half, that defense in the third quarter, we were good, Wizards coach Scott Brooks said Monday. We were swarming the basketball, and thats what weve wanted to do. Weve changed our defense the last three or four games. Our bigs are doing a good job and our guards are pursuing. We just have to continue to do it. Markieff Morris now sees the opening of halves from a different vantage point as Washingtons new sixth-man. We were just attacking, Morris said of the second half swing. [The Knicks] were real lackadaisical. We saw a couple of shots fall so we gradually attacked them defensively, and started pushing the tempo also. Otto Porters 3-pointer put the Wizards up for good at 67-65. Bradley Beals alley-oop dunk capped that 20-4 run. The margin reached 11 in the third and 16 in the fourth with 4:24 remaining.

There would be no Steve Buckhantz dagger call with a hefty lead, or so most assumed. That is except for those that closely watch the 2018-19 Wizards or were aware that these Knicks dont quit. Washington, now 10-14, is 9-7 over its last 16 games. It still struggles to remain engaged for all 48 minutes. New York (8-17) entered Monday having won four of six games with each victory coming against a likely playoff team. Theyre scrappy kids, Knicks coach David Fizdale said of his players, including those who didnt back down from the veteran Wizards during those previous meetings. Theyre trying to fight their way into this league. Theyre trying to show people immediately that they belong. Fizdale said. Id rather it be that way than not having any fight in them. We can temper that. I do like the fight, the scrap in them.

They want to prove to people they belong. New Yorks previous game, an overtime triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks, included a late comeback. Mondays nearly did as well. With the Wizards playing as if the game ended with three minutes remaining, the Knicks rallied with 12 consecutive points. John Walls 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining pushed the lead to six, effectively sealing the deal. The moment also let Buckhantz trot out his signature call. Not that anybody, probably not even the play-by-play announcer, wanted to hear it. At least the Wizards didnt fold. They ran two good sets with Beal on the ball in the final minute.

They also did enough good earlier to give themselves that large cushion. Were going to focus on all the good things we did well, Brooks said. Obviously, we have a good film session from the last two to three minutes of the game. Im not going to take away what we did. Scott Brooks and the players will have more fun reviewing that third quarter when the Wizards intensity went up. 

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