Kemba Walker Erupts for Season-High 44 as Knicks Fall to Wizards at MSG

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 24, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Kemba Walker #8 of the New York Knicks shoots the ball to end the first half during the game against the Washington Wizards on December 23, 2021 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Ten years after his legendary Big East Tournament run, New York Knicks point guard Kemba Walker lit up Madison Square Garden once again as he dropped 44 points in a 124-117 loss to the Washington Wizards on Thursday.

StatMuse @statmuse

Kemba Walker tonight:<br><br>44 PTS<br>9 REB<br>8 AST<br>14-27 FG<br>7-14 3P<br><br>That’s his most in a game since 2019. <a href="https://t.co/pWTtHAJtJR">pic.twitter.com/pWTtHAJtJR</a>

Walker's best work occurred in the second quarter when he dropped 23 points. That effort included four three-pointers, including this one with Raul Neto guarding him:


CARDIAC. <a href="https://t.co/IdYJEfR9kg">pic.twitter.com/IdYJEfR9kg</a>

Walker also carved up the Washington defense inside the arc, and he somehow hit this off-balance shot to put New York up 64-57 with fans chanting his name:


KEMBA GOT THE GARDEN ROCKING. <a href="https://t.co/K4MYkJhAtZ">pic.twitter.com/K4MYkJhAtZ</a>


This went in. <a href="https://t.co/gvl66kYm6I">pic.twitter.com/gvl66kYm6I</a>

That capped a 15-point stretch over the final 3:19 of the first half, which included this three-pointer on the previous possession:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

KEMBA WALKER IS GOING OFF IN THE GARDEN.<br><br>28 PTS ALREADY. 🔥🔥🔥 <a href="https://t.co/6iSBQLWpst">pic.twitter.com/6iSBQLWpst</a>

It was more of the same in the third quarter, as Walker scored 13 more points to give himself 41 before the fourth.

The former UConn star converted a four-point play after drilling this three:


KEMBA ARE YOU SERIOUS 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/Mbn4lNd82o">pic.twitter.com/Mbn4lNd82o</a>

Walker took advantage of whatever space he could take, and he used this sliver to give himself 37 on the night:


41 POINTS. AND COUNTING. <a href="https://t.co/oOLi6o0kKq">pic.twitter.com/oOLi6o0kKq</a>

The 11-year veteran didn't score as much in the fourth quarter, but he kept finding his teammates for buckets, including Mitchell Robinson:

Knicks Videos @sny_knicks

Kemba finds Mitch for the jam<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/nyknicks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nyknicks</a>)<a href="https://t.co/3mmgmzdP3O">pic.twitter.com/3mmgmzdP3O</a>

Walker also hit a clutch three in the fourth, losing his balance before regaining his composure well enough to cut Washington's lead to 104-100:


He's a bad, bad man. <a href="https://t.co/w2W3QDz2wX">pic.twitter.com/w2W3QDz2wX</a>

Walker's night harkened back memories of when he led the ninth-seeded UConn Huskies to the Big East title at the Garden. He was named tournament MVP after leading UConn to five wins in five days, averaging 26.0 points along the way.

Walker was removed from the Knicks' rotation after a 118-97 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 26. He missed the Knicks' next 10 games before returning Dec. 18 against the Boston Celtics.

Walker dropped 29 against the C's and 21 more against the Detroit Pistons before his 44-point outburst against Washington, so he's averaged 31.3 points per game since coming back into the rotation.

Walker was sensational, but the rest of the Knicks largely were not, especially on the defensive end.

Despite missing three-time All-Star leading scorer Bradley Beal, Washington shot 56.0 percent from the field and 16-of-37 from the three-point line.

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 21 points to lead seven Wizards in double figures. Kyle Kuzma hit a pair of huge three-pointers in the final minutes as well.

The Knicks did enough on offense to win, but they also shot just 6-of-28 from three-point range minus Walker's efforts.

With the loss, the Knicks fell to 14-18. Walker will look to lead New York to victory when the Knicks host the Atlanta Hawks at noon on Christmas Day.