Wizards close first half Wednesday against Knicks
Coming off Tuesday night’s win over the Bulls, the Wizards (19-33) are back at it tonight, taking on the Knicks (17-37) at 7:30 P.M. at Madison Square Garden. Washington, playing in its final game before the All-Star break, has won four of its last six games entering Wednesday’s matchup in New York.
Madison Square Garden | 7:30 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Ish Smith, G – Bradley Beal, F – Isaac Bonga, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Ian Mahinmi
Knicks: G – Elfrid Payton, G – RJ Barrett, F – Reggie Bullock, F – Julius Randle, C – Taj Gibson
Wizards: Thomas Bryant (right foot soreness – out), Anzejs Pasceniks (left hip tightness – questionable), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Knicks: Damyean Dotson (illness – available), Maurice Harkless (illness – available), Mitchell Robinson (illness – available), Allonzo Trier (illness – available)
Beal closing first half on career-best streak
Bradley Beal enters Wednesday’s game against the Knicks having scored 25-plus points in 11 consecutive games, now the longest such streak of his career. In that time, he’s averaged 35.1 points and 6.0 assists per game and led the Wizards to a 6-5 record. All season long, Beal has carried the load for the Wizards on offense, amassing a usage rate five points higher than his previous career high. As his usage has gone up, so too has his opportunity for playmaking – and Beal has made the most of that. Now averaging a career-high 6.3 assists per game this season, Beal has registered at least six helpers in eight of the last 11 games.
Smith key in win over Bulls
Since last week’s trade deadline, when the Wizards dealt Isaiah Thomas to the Clippers, Ish Smith has started each of Washington’s three games. Against Chicago on Tuesday night, Smith played one of his best games of the season, recording a season-high nine assists without turning the ball over once. Smith scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds and was a plus-26 in 28 minutes of action.
“Ish is great,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said postgame. “He gives you everything he has every night. He made a couple of big threes. He was active defensively: nine assists, zero turnovers. He read the game. He has the ability to get into the paint and cause a lot of havoc. I like when he has a balance—there's a sweet spot— instead of doing it all the time, finding the shooters opens up to the paint even more [space] for him. I thought he had one of his best all-around games defensively. He was bothering their guards, then he's making plays and taking care of the basketball, and he made two big threes.”
Randle leads Knicks’ recent run
While the Wizards will be playing on the back end of a home-road back-to-back, the Knicks have not played since a Sunday-night, double-overtime loss to the Hawks. Julius Randle led the way for New York with 35 points, 20 of which came in the first half, and 18 rebounds. That loss was New York’s first in five games, ending a four-game winning streak that included wins over the Pacers, Cavaliers, Magic and Pistons. The Knicks’ recent success wasn’t hampered by dealing away Marcus Morris Sr., the team’s leading scorer, at the trade deadline. Since dealing Morris, Randle has stepped up, averaging 24.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.