Some might consider it a dirty trick, but the Wizards catfished New York in their 106-96 victory before 18,263 at Verizon Center on Wednesday.
The Atlantic Division-leading Knicks are built around Carmelo Anthony and a battalion of shooters that have made them the second-best 3-point shooting team in the NBA.
But the new and resurgent Wizards, ranked 25th, swiped that identity, hitting 10 of their first 14 shots from the arc. Anthony had a game-high 31 points, but the Wizards (13-35) rode their own superstar, John Wall (21 points, nine assists), down the stretch to snap a 10-game skid against New York and garner their seventh win in eight home games.
"If we got it going," Martell Webster said, "we can play just as intense as [the best offensive teams], fire off as many shots as they can because we have a great point guard who opens the court up. He opens it up like the Red Sea."
Webster (19 points) and Trevor Ariza (season-high 20 points) each had five 3-pointers and at least one in the fourth quarter, where the Wizards scored a season-high 36 points. Washington finished 11-for-20 from long range while the Knicks (31-16) were 9-for-28.
Ariza even opened the period with a four-point play, but his biggest bucket came off a Webster airball with Washington clinging to a 99-93 lead with just over two minutes remaining. He snuck under the basket, caught the ball, took a dribble then fired a turnaround layup.
"I don't know, but I just know it helped me," Ariza said of the breakout offensive performance, which complemented his defensive assignment guarding Anthony. "I finally hit a shot so it felt good to get something going."
Wall was excited to play in front of his coach at Kentucky, John Calipari, and Magic Johnson. He also had a Knicks-heavy crowd to contend with, but he got Wizards fans going when he rejected Anthony from behind, then ran downcourt and spun past Jason Kidd in the lane for a fast-break layup and an early 16-5 lead.
The Knicks answered with a 10-0 run but lost a second quarter advantage when Wall penetrated at high speed and kicked the ball out to Garrett Temple, who in turn skipped it to Ariza for a 3-pointer and a 51-48 halftime lead.
New York fought back from nine down in the third quarter before Wall put back his own miss to spark a 10-0 Washington run to turn a 73-68 deficit into a 78-73 lead over the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters. From there the Knicks got no closer than four as they saw their five-game winning streak coming to an end.
"As long as we keep competing and doing what we have to do to keep ourselves in these games and giving ourselves a chance to win," said Wall, who fought through six turnovers, "you see the crowd start to change near the end of the fourth quarter."
While Amar'e Stoudemire had 19 points off the bench and Raymond Felton had 17, the Wizards had six players in double figures, including Nene (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Chris Singleton (10 points).
"That's what quality NBA games are made up of," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "Different teams make different runs, and you have to learn to withstand it, stop it and make a run of your own. I thought we did that tonight as well as we've done all year."