WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards are currently bad at basketball. New York Knicks forward Krystaps Porzingis is soaring.
Porzingis scored a career-high 35 points in New York's 105-102 win over the Detroit Pistons Wednesday night just as Washington suffered a brutal 109-102 loss at the one-win Philadelphia 76ers. The two sides meet Thursday night on the Wizards' homecourt.
Carmelo Anthony had 22 points and Derrick Rose scored 16 for the Knicks (5-6), who have won two straight. Joakim Noah, who was benched for the second half of Monday's win, grabbed 15 rebounds and had seven points. New York outrebounded Detroit 52-40. Having a 7-foot-3 standout like Porzingis helps with boards and buckets.
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The second-year big man made 13 of 22 shots from the field, three 3-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds over 40 minutes.
“He is dangerous,” Rose said. “For a second-year player that doesn't really know the game like that, for him to come out and play the way he plays is incredible. And for him to be 7-foot-3 and move the way that he moves is kind of crazy. A unique, unique player.”
Porzingis had 25 points in the first half.
“Shots were falling,” Porzingis said. “I was playing my game. My teammates were finding me. I was in good position and my shot felt good.”
The Wizards (2-9) played without guard Bradley Beal throughout and without much passion in the first half. Philadelphia led 29-15 after the first quarter and largely maintained a comfortable margin and until the final minutes. Trailing 103-100 with 1:10 remaining, hope faded as 76ers big man Richaun Holmes drained a backbreaking 3-pointer.
“They outplayed us in that first half,” coach Scott Brooks said after the Wizards fell to 0-5 on the road. “There was about a 12-minute period where we showed no resistance and it's unacceptable. We battled back but when you're down a big number and playing catch-up, it takes a lot out of you.”
John Wall had 23 of his 27 points in the second half. Markieff Morris scored 19 points.
“You have an opportunity to play the game that you love for a living. So, playing hard should be the easiest thing that you do,” Wall said. “Competing, making shots, that can all come later on. Making shots, that can come later on. Sometimes you're going to make shots, sometimes you're going to miss shots. But when you're not making shots, you have to be able to defend and play hard. Most of the game, they outplayed us, until the end of second. In the third and fourth we showed glimpses.
The point guard played 24 minutes after sitting out Saturday's 106-95 loss at the Chicago Bulls. The three-time All-Star has not played both ends of a back-to-back set this season after undergoing two knee surgeries during the offseason. That is expected to change Thursday, but Washington limited Wall's minutes in Philadelphia accordingly.
Beal missed his three straight game with a hamstring injury suffered on Nov. 9. Undrafted rookie Sheldon McClellan scored six points in his second career start.
Washington won the series 2-1 last season, including a victory in the lone game at Madison Square Garden. Wall had 28 points and 17 assists in a 111-108 win on Feb. 9.