In road finale, Washington Wizards fall to New York Knicks

Wizards guard Mike Miller (23 points) doesn't give in defensively against the Knicks' Danilo Gallinari.
Wizards guard Mike Miller (23 points) doesn't give in defensively against the Knicks' Danilo Gallinari. (Mary Altaffer/associated Press)
By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NEW YORK -- The final road game of the season had the feeling of a reunion. Two of the Washington Wizards' walking wounded, Josh Howard and Randy Foye, were both in the city visiting doctors for their respective season-ending injuries and decided to sit among their teammates for the first time as spectators.

Four weeks after having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Howard moved around without crutches and watched while wearing a brace. Foye, who had his camouflage cast removed on Monday and will have surgery on Thursday, was launching one-handed three-pointers from the bench at halftime. Asked before the game if he could play, Foye smiled, grabbed the lapels of his sport coat and said, "Nah. I'm coaching."

Although the Wizards had lost their past two meetings against the New York Knicks, including a 22-point defeat when the teams played at Madison Square Garden two months ago, they really didn't need a healthy Foye or Howard -- until Andray Blatche joined them on the bench after picking up his fifth foul with 9 minutes 50 seconds remaining. Blatche sat for nearly four minutes and the Knicks took advantage, closing the game on a 31-11 run to win, 114-103.

"We wasn't disciplined in the fourth quarter. We was like a chicken without a head out there," Blatche said after scoring 19 points with 10 rebounds and 7 assists.

Mike Miller had a team-high 23 points, Shaun Livingston added 18 points and Nick Young had 16, but the Wizards couldn't contain David Lee in the first half, Danilo Gallinari in the second half or reserve Sergio Rodriguez in the fourth quarter.

Lee led all scorers with 26 points, while Gallinari overcame a scoreless first half to pour in 24 points in the final two periods Rodriguez had 12 in the final period as the Knicks (29-52) won the season series against the Wizards, three games to one.

Blatche had a rough first half, as he missed five of his seven field goal attempts. He started out the second half in similar fashion, as Gallinari slapped Blatche's fast-break layup attempt off the backboard and into the front row. Blatche smiled as he walked away, then nodded his head as if he was ready to get going.

He then made his next five baskets, giving the Wizards an 84-74 lead when he made a layup to start the fourth quarter. "When he blocked my shot, I kind of got mad. I just got more aggressive," Blatche said.

Blatche picked up his fifth personal foul shortly thereafter. JaVale McGee put the Wizards ahead, 92-83, with a fast-break dunk, but the Wizards struggled to get anything going offensively without Blatche. The Knicks scored the next nine points before Miller made a running jumper in the lane, Rodriguez tied the game with a driving layup and Coach Flip Saunders was forced to put Blatche back in the game with 6:09 remaining. But by then, Saunders said, "there was a barnstorm going the other way."

Rodriguez made another jumper, then Bill Walker had an uncontested dunk before Rodriguez hit a three-pointer and added two free throws to give the Knicks a 103-94 lead.

"Meltdown, meltdown. Very disappointing. Very embarrassing," Livingston said. "For me, as a competitor, to assume leadership of the team, defensively, offensively, everything, it was a meltdown. We got stagnant. It wasn't happening."

McGee finished with eight points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots, but probably could've done more if he hadn't suffered a sprained right thumb early in the second period when a Knicks player chopped down on his hand. McGee went to the bench and was in noticeable pain, as he leaned back and forth and winced while head athletic trainer Eric Waters worked with his hand.

"It's all right. A little swollen but it's good," said McGee, who blocked a shot in the second half with his left hand. "I still could shoot, still could dunk with it."

Miller scored at least 20 points in a game for the fourth time this season -- and second against the defensively deficient Knicks. Miller got started early, making three wide open three-pointers in the first quarter. Afterward, Miller was more upset with the open looks that the Wizards gave up in the fourth quarter, when the Knicks scored 40 points. "We gave up way too many points," Miller said.

Saunders blamed the fourth-quarter breakdown on the shortcomings of his bench. When reminded that two of the best players on the bench were in sport coats, Saunders smiled and said, "It would've been nice to have. Maybe next year."

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