WASHINGTON — The Wizards entered Saturday a hot mess, losers of five straight with noise that GM Ernie Grunfeld and/or coach Scott Brooks could be in trouble.
Then the Knicks came to town and provided a nice respite with their porous defense, careless possessions and awful shooting, allowing the Wizards (2-7) to take over the second half for their 108-95 victory on Sunday.
The Knicks (3-7), coming off Friday’s victory in Dallas, hit just 5 of their 27 3-point attempts.
“They got some pros over there. They got all stars over there. They got a proven coach. Everybody goes through crap. That’s this league man,” Fizdale said of the Wizards. “But you can never walk into a building thinking – especially us – walk into a building thinking we got something figured out.”
Beyond New York’s putrid shooting and 18 turnovers, the difference was Washington’s backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. They combined for 46 points on 15-of-29 shooting with 10 assists, taking turns giving the young Knicks lineup fits.
Tim Hardaway Jr. sustained a bruised lower back in the second quarter — the result of a Wall knee — and never got going, missing 8 of his 10 shots for a season-low seven points.
Enes Kanter led the Knicks statistically off the bench with 18 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes.
Rookie Mitchell Robinson was tested against arguably the strongest center in the NBA, Dwight Howard. Perhaps assisted by Howard’s lack of fitness and ho-hum effort, Robinson contributed 10 points and six rebounds. But he also lost control emotionally down the stretch.
With about five minutes remaining, Robinson was blocked on his dunk attempt by Bradley Beal. Then on the other end, he fouled Jeff Green and picked up a technical for arguing. The five-point swing resulted in a nine-point deficit for the Knicks, and the Wizards never looked back.
Counting one in preseason, it represented the third technical foul of Robinson’s very short career.
He has a temper.
“It’ll be a great test for him,” Fizdale said before the game about Robinson facing Howard, who finished with 10 points and 10 boards. “All of this stuff for Mitchell right now, every day is a huge education for him. Every guy he plays against presents different challenges. And you know, hopefully he can adapt fast.”
Kevin Knox needs to play 5-on-5 before being cleared to return from his ankle sprain, according to Fizdale.
Even though Knox was optimistic about his chances of playing Monday against Chicago, Fizdale essentially ruled that out since it’s the second game of a back-to-back and there’s no time to practice. That leaves either Wednesday’s game at Atlanta or Saturday’s game at Toronto for a Knox return. He has missed the last seven games since spraining his ankle on Oct. 20 against the Celtics.
The rookie practiced Saturday and participated in a 3-on-3 scrimmage.