Against Washington, the Knicks‘ poor defense beats the Knicks’ solid offense

Martell Webster is given unlimited space to shoot. (NBA.com)
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For the New York Knicks, Wednesday night's game against the Washington Wizards followed a familiar pattern.

Despite a lackluster defensive effort, the combination of Carmelo Anthony's unparalleled scoring, a balanced supporting effort from Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith, and just six turnovers allowed them to overcome their opponents' hot shooting and take a lead into the fourth quarter.

The Knicks have been closing out games like this all year, putting forth just enough effort to stay close, then delivering the kill as needed. 

The opposite happened against the Wizards, though, as a very poor team managed to score 36 points in the final quarter to hand the Knicks a 106-96 loss.

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Maybe the Knicks were tired. The Wizards got any shot they wanted down the stretch, inside or out. Even an offensively limited N.B.A. team—and the Wizards, 30 of 30 in offensive efficiency, sure qualify—still makes open layups or jumpers pretty regularly.

The Wizards took 19 shots, and made 13 of them, a nearly 70 percent clip. And two of the six shots they missed, they managed to collect offensive rebounds. So the quarter held hardly any empty trips for the Wizards.

That John Wall, easily Washington's best player and a particular type of player (quick point guard) who causes the Knicks fits, should have scored 10 points in the quarter is at least understandable. That offensively limited Trevor Ariza and Chris Singleton managed nine apiece is not.

"You let a team shoot 53 percent, that's a recipe for disaster," Tyson Chandler said following the game.

And that's the thing: this wasn't the Wizards doing something particularly revelatory on offense. The Knicks, essentially, let them shoot 53 percent.

Over the course of an N.B.A. season, most teams, even very good ones like the Knicks, are going to lose winnable games. But in a closely fought battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, games like this could mean the difference between a Game 7 in Madison Square Garden and one down in Miami.

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