WASHINGTON -- John Wall used his quickness to get wherever he wanted on the court last night against a Knicks' team that was a step slow and a little overconfident.
The Knicks had won five consecutive games and played as if they expected that streak to extend to six against the second-worst team in the East. It ended after the Knicks' lackluster defensive effort in a 106-96 loss to the Wizards at the Verizon Center. The Knicks had defeated Washington in their previous 10 meetings.
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"We expected to come in here and win and I think that's part of our problem," J.R. Smith said. "We just expect teams when we come in the building to lay down and not play and we can't do that."
"It was awful across the board, starting at the top with me," a disgusted Mike Woodson said. "We've got to be better."
Woodson warned the Knicks (31-16) about not overlooking teams and making sure they contained the Wizards point guard. But it apparently went unheeded as Wall blew by the Knicks repeatedly and picked them apart in screen-and-rolls.
Wall scored 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and had nine assists. If he wasn't scoring he was getting inside and setting up his teammates for open looks.
The Wizards shot 42-of-79 (53.2 percent) overall and 11 of 20 (55 percent) from three-point range. The Knicks led by three to start the fourth, but were outscored 36-23. The Wizards shot 13 of 19 from the field in the final quarter. "We just never really got matched up," Woodson said. "I'm talking about in transition. We didn't get back and build a wall. We're begging for help around the court. When we're playing like that we're an awful team in terms of how we like to play and how we've been playing all year.
"I'm on my perimeter players for letting that happen. They've got to take pride in guarding. You can't put it on the bigs. It all works hand in hand. The perimeter guys have to do their job."
"They played great from beginning to end and we didn't," Woodson said. "We were just there thinking we were going to show up and come out of here with a win and it just didn't happen."
Carmelo Anthony paced the Knicks with 31 points. Amar'e Stoudemire had 19 and Raymond Felton 17. Tyson Chandler's streak of three straight 20-rebound games ended. He grabbed 13 boards in defeat.
The Knicks erased a nine-point third-quarter hole and used a 21-9 run to open the fourth up three. But the quarter opened badly for the Knicks and was a sign of what was to come.
Anthony fouled Ariza as he took a three. Ariza made the shot and free throw, starting an 18-7 surge that gave the Wizards an 88-80 cushion with 8:36 left.
"If we want to accomplish the things that we all say that we want to accomplish, we have to be ready for games like this, we have to get up for games like this," Chandler said. "It should be about us and we have to think that way when we're heading into games."