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Recap: Wizards drop preseason finale on Knicks buzzer-beater
FINAL: WIZARDS 113 | KNICKS 115
Wizards: Raul Neto (25), Spencer Dinwiddie (17), Aaron Holiday (14)
Knicks: Derrick Rose (28), Julius Randle (21), RJ Barrett (18)
The Wizards were defeated by the Knicks 115-113 on a buzzer-beating jumper on Friday night in New York, closing out their four-game preseason schedule. Raul Neto scored a team-high 25 points while Julius Randle scored 21 points, including the game-winner. Washington will open its regular season slate on Wednesday night in Toronto before hosting its home opener in D.C. next Friday night.
Kyle Kuzma, coming off a game on Tuesday in which he hit six threes, and Spencer Dinwiddie knocked down 3-pointers on the Wizards’ first two possessions of the game. Minutes later, back-to-back buckets by Aaron Holiday sparked a 12-0 run that put Washington up 23-8. Second-year guard Immanuel Quickley came off the bench and led a New York resurgence, scoring consecutive baskets to pull the Knicks within seven. Washington, however, closed the first half strong, riding a 12-2 run highlighted by threes from Dinwiddie, Raul Neto and Deni Avdija to a 17-point lead with less than two minutes left in the half. Bradley Beal was plus-13 in nine minutes in the first half, but did not return in the second due to a right knee contusion.
“We don’t know the extent (of the injury),” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of Beal postgame. “I don’t believe it’s anything substantial, but we’ll wait to see. He’ll get revaluated probably tomorrow and we will go from there.”
After the Knicks cut the Wizards’ advantage from 19 to 10 with 2:30 left in the third, Corey Kispert knocked down his first 3-pointer of the night to put a stop to the run. An assist and last-second layup from Kuzma in the final minute put Washington up 90-75 heading into the final frame. Neto and Kuzma combined for 17 points on 7-7 (1.000) shooting in the third quarter.
Just as New York was gathering momentum, again cutting a large Wizards lead down to 10 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope knocked down a three to put an end to the Knicks’ run with under seven minutes to go in the game. A clutch corner three from Kispert briefly took the wind out of a late Knicks run, but New York quickly regained its rhythm. In less than two minutes, the Knicks turned an eight-point deficit into a three-point lead, highlighted by back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers. Randle missed a pair of free throws with the Knicks up 113-110 with 17.9 second left in the game, leaving the door open for the Wizards. Coming out of a timeout, Kispert caught the inbounds pass and in one motion turned and buried a game-tying three. The deadlock didn’t last, however, as Randle buried a mid-range game-winner as time expired.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Neto leads the way with 25 points
Neto’s performance off the bench was the highest-scoring game of the Wizards’ entire preseason slate. His 25 points came in just 24 minutes. After scoring just seven points in the first two quarters, Neto dialed it up coming out of halftime, scoring 11 points in the first 6:30 of the third quarter. He scored nine consecutive points to give Washington a 76-60 lead. Neto did a little bit of everything in that span, converting on a 3-pointer, mid-range jumper and driving through contact to finish at the rim. Neto added six points in the fourth on a pair of 3-pointers.
Wizards’ defense fades after strong start
The Wizards’ defense faltered down the stretch, allowing 40 points in the decisive fourth quarter on 13-27 (.481) from the field and 6-10 (.600) from 3-point range. The early stages of the game, however, featured flashes of the defense that Unseld Jr. has been calling for over the course of the last week. In quarters 1-3, Washington held New York to 29-75 (.387) from the field and 9-32 (.281) from deep. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, lauded throughout the preseason for his perimeter defense, finished plus-16 in 26 minutes despite scoring just six points. Daniel Gafford recorded four blocks and no personal fouls in the first half and finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Holiday continues to impress
Aaron Holiday closed the preseason with another strong showing on Friday night, totaling 14 points on 6-10 (.600) shooting, seven rebounds and four assists. It was the second time this preseason he scored in double-figures. Holiday started hot, scoring seven of his 14 points on 3-4 (.750) shooting in just three minutes in the first quarter.
“It’s a microcosm of what we’ve seen thus far,” Unseld Jr. said of Holiday postgame. “His minutes have fluctuated playing with different groups and combinations. But this opportunity was great and he made the best of it. I think it’s important for him to be that guy coming off the bench – both he and (Neto).”