There were no complaints about playing time, and for good reason. But there also wasn't a victory.
Playing shorthanded, the Wizards dropped their second straight game at home for the first time since early January with a 96-88 defeat to the New York Knicks.
After splitting time with an improved A.J. Price in two straight games, John Wall had to play 42 minutes as Price remained on the bench with right quadriceps contusion. While it allowed him to bounce back from a poor showing against Detroit two nights prior, Wall put the onus on himself after the Wizards (18-39) shot 3-for-17 in the fourth quarter and didn't make a field goal over the final four minutes.
"I felt good, just l felt like I lost the game in the fourth quarter, just a couple turnovers in transition," said Wall, who had 16 points, six assists and three steals but committed two of his five turnovers in the fourth quarter. "Sometimes the call goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. So I put the game on my hands."
But there was blame to go around, including the absence of Nene for a second straight game and 10 missed free throws, including five by Emeka Okafor (11 points, 10 rebounds) and two in the fourth quarter from Bradley Beal, the only blemishes on his latest outstanding performance.
Beal finished with a career-high 29 points and 11 rebounds, picking up his third double-double on a night when he was inexplicably denied a third straight Eastern Conference rookie of the month award. Although he'd averaged 17.5 points per game in February, the honor went to Cleveland's Dion Waiters, who averaged 15.8 points but played four more games during the month.
On his first basket of the night, Beal also set the Wizards rookie record for 3-pointers, finishing with four to give him 79 for the year, three more than Steve Blake in 2003-04. He also sparked a 12-2 run after the Wizards had falled behind by 11 points in the third quarter when he followed a rare missed from long distance.
"I was just trying to make plays," Beal said. "I was in a zone, and I was just trying to do whatever it took to get the team rolling. I just tried to give us some type of boost of energy and enthusiasm, just trying to make big plays for us."
Carmelo Anthony (30 points) and Raymond Felton (23 points) did the playmaking for the Knicks (35-20), who got payback for a 106-96 loss in Washington on Feb. 6 and once again enjoyed an overwhelming majority of the sellout crowd at Verizon Center.
After the Wizards took a 77-73 advantage into the final period, New York used Amar'e Stoudemire (12 points) to run off 10 straight points. Two came on a fast break layup by Jason Kidd that Wall chased down from behind and appeared to block off the backboard. Instead it was called goaltending, and Wall picked up a technical foul for arguing. Wall said he was fine with the heavy minutes but later missed a poorly taken 3-pointer and coughed up the ball twice trying to get into the lane at high speed. But Wizards coach Randy Wittman, who'd blame in-game complaints over minutes two nights before, didn't fault the third-year point guard.
"That's what he's got to continue to do," Wittman said. "Play, play hard, play through mistakes, play through missed shots, play...and I thought he did that tonight. Things will turn, things will turn for the better. And if we continue, the attitude and the play and everybody on the same page like we were again tonight, we'll be fine."