The last time the New York Knicks came to Washington, Carmelo Anthony popped Trevor Booker with an elbow to the face, left a dazed Booker frozen, and then buried a decisive three-pointer with 15.9 seconds remaining in the Wizards’ 99-96 loss on Jan. 6.
But Booker won’t get another opportunity to shut down Anthony, or Amare Stoudemire since both players will out for Wednesday’s game at Verizon Center. Anthony strained his right groin on Monday in the first quarter of the Knicks’ 99-88 victory over the Utah Jazz and will miss the next week or two. Stoudemire lost his older brother, Hazell, in a car accident and isn’t expected to return until early next week as he grieves the death.
With the Knicks missing their two all-star forwards, who combined to score 50 points, in the win last month, Booker is looking at the rematch as an opportunity for the Wizards (5-20) to win back-to-back games for the first time since last April 9-11.
“I mean, we should, with Amare and Melo out, it’s a game that we should win,” Booker said. “We was close with them last time and they had both of them. I feel we definitely should get it. It’ll boost our confidence. Amare and Melo is out, so it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of.”
The Wizards are 2-5 with Booker in the starting lineup, which is the best winning percentage of any starter. Rookie Chris Singleton is expected to start again in place of the injured Rashard Lewis and is 3-7 as a starter. Booker and Singleton are the only Wizards to win more 25 percent of their starts.
The Knicks (10-15) have won two in a row, with Jeremy Lin carrying the team offensively, averaging 26.5 points and 7.5 assists in those games. When asked how the Wizards would prepare for the shorthanded Knicks, Coach Randy Wittman gave his usual response that he is not worried about the opponent – and wouldn’t make any changes based on the presence of Anthony or Stoudemire.
“No adjustments,” Wittman said. “We’re going to play the same way, whether they are in or not. We’re not going to make any changes in how we’ll attack them or play them. That’s kind of where we’re trying to get to as a team. We’re going to play our way and if you do that every night, the repetition of doing that is how you get better. We’re going to play the New York Knicks, no matter who they play.”