The Washington Wizards were trailing the New York Knicks by three points heading into the fourth quarter, and their bench had provided only a little boost thanks to Trevor Ariza‘s three-point shooting en route to a season-high 20 points.
In the fourth quarter, Ariza and reserve forward Chris Singleton combined to score half of the Wizards’ points, and their contributions went a long way to securing a 106-96 win that was Washington’s fifth this season against a division leader.
“Those are the best teams I guess,” Ariza said. “I don’t think it’s something we intend to do. We just try to play hard every night.”
Singleton scored nine of his 10 points in the fourth quarter on 4-for-5 shooting, and Ariza added nine points in making 3 of 4 shots, including two three-pointers. Those backups, along with starting point guard John Wall, combined for 28 of the Wizards’ 36 points in the fourth quarter to push Washington to its seventh win at Verizon Center in eight games.
Singleton had not played in four consecutive games before Coach Randy Wittman turned to him again Feb. 2 against the San Antonio Spurs. Over the past three games, Singleton has reached double-figures twice.
“My time on the bench, everybody was just trying to keep me up,” Singleton said. “Just working with the coaches on the stuff I needed to work on, and just be ready for the moment, and the moment’s here.”
Ariza, meantime, has scored in double figures in four of five games. His five three-pointers against the Knicks were a season high. What’s more, Ariza had the assignment of defending Carmelo Anthony, who is second in the NBA in points per game (28.4).
Anthony finished with a game-high 31 points but missed 13 of 23 shots. He also committed a team-high five turnovers, two of which came during the fourth quarter.
“Trevor’s been just lights out for us,” Wittman said. “Defensively, again I know you’re going to sit there and say I’m crazy, and I am crazy, but he made Carmelo work for 31. Like I told you guys before, he’s the best scorer in the league, I think, bar none, and we made him take 23 shots.”