Wizards-Knicks Preview

John Wall has already taken advantage of a New York Knicks team

playing without Raymond Felton.

Now the question is whether the Washington Wizards will survive

if Nene misses a fourth straight game due to a foot injury.

The Wizards have lost four straight overall and dropped 10 in a

row at Madison Square Garden heading into Monday night’s

matchup.

Wall had 31 points and seven assists to lead Washington (9-13)

to a 98-89 home win over New York on Nov. 23. The Knicks played

that game without Felton, and his replacement at the point, Beno

Udrih, made 1 of 7 shots and finished with two points.

Wall admitted that New York (7-16) is not the same without

Felton, who is currently out with a strained left hamstring.

“We know it’s a different team without Raymond,” Wall said,

“because Raymond does a great job of penetrating and getting shots

for those guys.”

The Wizards again proved to be a different team without Nene in

Saturday’s 113-97 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Washington

has lost seven in a row when Nene doesn’t play and is 3-24 without

the Brazilian forward since the beginning of last season.

The club is also without Bradley Beal, who has not played since

the victory over the Knicks due to a stress injury in his right

leg.

Coach Randy Wittman didn’t want to blame the absences for his

team’s second four-game slide of the season. The Wizards fell twice

in overtime and once by one point in the other defeats during the

current skid.

“Bradley and Nene are obviously important parts of our team but

that’s not an excuse,” Wittman said. “You guys can write all you

want about that. I don’t want our guys to feel that, we had three

games we should have won going into this game.”

Wall will likely have a point-guard matchup this time with Pablo

Prigioni, who made his third straight start Saturday and had 11

points in a 111-106 home victory over Atlanta.

Carmelo Anthony scored 35 and Andrea Bargnani added 23, but the

story of the game afterward was a second straight two-point effort

from J.R. Smith.

Smith took just one shot in Friday’s 90-86 defeat at Boston

after reportedly having an argument with coach Mike Woodson earlier

in the week. One night later, Smith made his first start since Nov.

16 but sat out the entire fourth quarter in favor of rookie Tim

Hardaway Jr., who missed all three of his shots and had one point

in the period.

Hardaway had 12 points entering the fourth.

“It’s not a thing of benching him,” Woodson said. “Timmy was

playing pretty good basketball and I decided to go with Timmy and

Iman (Shumpert).”

One Wizards player unhappy with his role is center Marcin

Gortat, who struggled with six points on 3-of-10 shooting

Saturday.

“I don’t like the position I play,” Gortat said. “I’m constantly

drifting more and more away from the basket and quite honestly,

that’s not my game. … I just think I’ve got to talk to Coach and

just clear things up.”

Washington’s last win at MSG was a 113-102 victory Dec. 6, 2006.

Four of New York’s starters from that game are no longer in the

NBA.