WASHINGTON — The Knicks waited until the game already had been decided to show some spirit and fight, and it carried over into the locker room.
Brandon Jennings was disgusted after a two-game winning streak came to a crashing halt with a 119-112 loss to the Wizards Thursday night at Verizon Center.
The Knicks trailed by 27 in the third quarter and needed a 47-point fourth to even make it interesting. Jennings scored 15 in the fourth and was still hot long after the loss.
“It’s very disappointing,” Jennings said. “We haven’t been locking in well on the road. That’s one of our big problems.
“If we want to be the team that we think we’re going to be, we got to play 10 times harder. Teams play better when they’re at home, and we’re the Knicks. You got to know what’s across your chest. It’s a bigger bull’s-eye on you.”
For most of the game, the Knicks looked like a team that expended all of its energy watching Kristaps Porzingis carry them Wednesday and celebrating his every move during his career-best 35-point performance.
With a chance to reach .500, and against a team that had more issues than the Knicks, they came out and fell flat.
The Wizards (3-8) have had injuries to key players, and lost to the lowly Sixers Wednesday night. But they played desperately and jumped all over the Knicks (5-7). Jennings said that’s how the Knicks have to play.
“These are games we should win. We have to win,” Jennings said. “We definitely need to be more desperate. Every game. From here on out we need to be desperate every game. We can’t think it’s sweet. We play for the New York Knicks. Everybody wants to beat us. It’s a known national team.”
Adding insult to insult, the 119 points allowed were the most the Knicks have given up this season, and the most Washington has scored — and the Wizards are one of the worst shooting teams in the league.
The Knicks let Washington shoot 54.3 percent overall (44-for-81) and 60 percent on three-pointers (15-for-25). Coming in, the Wizards were shooting 31.4 from deep and averaged six three-pointers a game.
“Defensively we just fell back to where we were before,” Jeff Hornacek said. “The fight defensively wasn’t there.”
The Knicks chartered a train out of Penn Station instead of flying after their win Wednesday, and didn’t arrive until the wee hours. It would be easy to use fatigue as an excuse, but the Knicks have played bad defense even on plenty of rest.
“No excuses, man,” Derrick Rose said. “No excuses. We’re pros. That’s what we get paid to do.”
Rose scored a season-high 27 points. Carmelo Anthony had 19 and Jennings scored 17 with 10 assists. Porzingis was 7-for-16 and had 16 points one night after enjoying a career night against Detroit. Hornacek thought Porzingis was tired from playing 40 minutes Wednesday.
“They were playing tighter defense than they were (Wednesday) night,” Porzingis said. “Maybe I should have been more aggressive.”
John Wall led Washington with 23 points and 11 assists. Otto Porter Jr. had 21 and Bradley Beal, back after missing the prior three games with a hamstring injury, scored 18.
Getting Beal back certainly helped the Wizards. But the Knicks’ defense also proved to be what the Wizards needed.
The Wizards led by 13 in the second quarter and extended to 27 during a 35-point third. The Knicks were down 106-83 with less than five minutes to go when they finally showed up. Jennings and Rose led them back, and they closed to 110-101 after an Anthony three-pointer with 1:59 left. But Wall converted a jumper 14 seconds later.
The Knicks had a chance to get within seven or fewer with about a minute to go, but Porzingis missed a floater. They finally cut it to seven after Porzingis’ three just before the buzzer.
“We tried to fight back,” Porzingis said. “But it was too late. We should have brought the effort in the beginning. Then the game maybe would have been different.”