Washington Wizards v New York Knicks
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards handles the ball against RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks on December 23, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizards defeat Knicks in New York, 121-115

The Wizards (9-20), with seven players missing due to injury and Isaiah Thomas serving the first game of his two-game suspension, defeated the Knicks (7-24) 121-115 Monday night at Madison Square Garden. A career performance from Troy Brown Jr., a 30-point game from Bradley Beal and a do-it-all debut from Gary Payton II propelled the Wizards to a much-needed victory.

Washington started its ninth different lineup of the season as Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, Jordan McRae, C.J. Miles, Moritz Wagner, John Wall and Thomas were all unavailable.

Troy Brown Jr., who saw an increased role as a ballhandler tonight with the Wizards thin at guard, played the best game of his career, setting highs in points (26) and assists (seven) to go along with nine rebounds. Brown Jr. shot 9-15 (.600) from the field and 2-4 (.500) from 3-point range and is now shooting 53.0% from the field in his last eight games.

“I feel like that is something I am capable of all the time,” Brown Jr. said postgame. “For me, it’s about going back and watching film and picking and choosing when to be aggressive and what’s a bad shot and what’s a good play for me. As I’ve been playing, I’ve just been aggressive and then letting everything else handle itself.”

Late in the first quarter with the Wizards trailing by 13, Gary Payton II, who signed with the Wizards earlier in the day, checked in and immediately swung the game in Washington’s favor. Shortly after Payton II entered the game, Washington went on an 18-3 run to take a 42-40 lead with 8:51 left in the first half. Payton II provided a defensive energy that quickly carried the Wizards back into the game. In his first 11 minutes on the court, he was a plus-15 without scoring a point. Payton II finished the game with 10 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and six steals, becoming the first bench player in NBA history to hit those marks in a game.

“He has what every coach wants,” Brooks said of Payton II postgame. “He has a defensive toughness. He has a presence. He makes winning basketball plays. It’s remarkable.”

Beal scored 20 points in the first half and finished with 30 points on the night, shooting 13-38 (.342) from the field, his 14th 30-point game of the season and fourth in his last five games.

“Brad (Bradley Beal) is a winner,” Brooks said. “He’s playing with a team that is fighting, scrapping, trying to stay afloat and he’s leading us. I don’t ever look at Brad’s stats from a shooting perspective. He helps us, gives us the confidence.…The team is about guys that are playing hard and playing the right way. I’m proud of them. We’re going to keep scrapping. We’re going to get some of our healthy players back eventually. Until then, our guys are going to have to continue to scrap and fly all over the floor.”

After trailing by one at half, Washington opened the third quarter on a 13-0 run that got everyone on the court involved. Each of the five Wizards players hit at least one field goal, giving Washington a 77-64 lead with just under nine minutes to go in the third. New York, however, owned the rest of the quarter and cut the lead to one before the start of the fourth.

Brown Jr. and Payton II led a 22-8 Wizards’ run to start the fourth quarter, giving Washington a 116-99 lead with 4:40 left in the game. The duo combined to score 17 of Washington’s 27 points in the final frame and helped fight off a Knicks’ run that cut the lead back down to three in the final minute of the game. With the Wizards up three with 10 seconds remaining, Brown Jr. blocked a Mitchell Robinson put-back attempt that would have cut the lead to one.

With the win, the Wizards have now won 19 of their last 22 games against the Knicks dating back to 2013.

The Wizards now have two days rest before taking on the Detroit Pistons (11-20) on Thursday at 7:00 P.M. at Little Caesars Arena. Washington and Detroit faced off just seven days ago, a 133-119 win behind 35 points and 10 assists from Beal.

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