Bradley Beal, Wizards Beat Knicks 101-100; Kevin Knox Held to 5 Points

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards looks on during the 2019 NBA London Game against the New York Knicks on January 17, 2019 at The O2 Arena in London, England. 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 2019 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Washington Wizards defeated the New York Knicks 101-100 on Thursday at the O2 Arena in London.

Noah Vonleh scored inside with 33 seconds remaining to put the Knicks ahead by a point. Thomas Bryant was credited with the game-winner when Knicks rookie Allonzo Trier was whistled for goaltending.

New York had 0.4 seconds to hoist a desperation attempt, but Emmanuel Mudiay's turnaround jumper was wide of the mark.

Bradley Beal struggled, going 10-of-29 from the field, but still scored 26 points. Otto Porter Jr. stepped up to provide a double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds) off the bench.

The Knicks were without Enes Kanter, who's averaging a double-double this season (14.4 points, 11.0 rebounds). Kanter cited safety concerns stemming from his criticism of Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The impact of Kanter's absence was evident as Washington out-rebounded New York 51-42.

Knicks first-round draft pick Kevin Knox shot 2-of-11, including 0-of-6 from beyond the arc, en route to a five-point performance.


Reaching Postseason Would Be Counterproductive for Wizards with John Wall out for Year

The Wizards outscored the Knicks 24-11 in the fourth quarter to pull out Thursday's victory. With the win, Washington is now only three games back of the eighth-place Charlotte Hornets for the Eastern Conference's final playoff berth.

Things looked bleak when the Wizards confirmed John Wall will miss the remainder of the 2018-19 season after undergoing heel surgery. Instead, they're a respectable 6-4 since Wall's injury forced him out of the lineup.

Washington might return to the postseason after all.

Tas Melas @TasMelas

The Wizards are going to the playoffs cause of course they are.

At the very least, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis made it clear the team "will never, ever tank," per the Washington Post's Candace Buckner. It's worth wondering, though, whether the franchise is better off in the long term by punting the rest of this year in hopes of tumbling down the lottery.

The pendulum has arguably shifted too much in favor of the idea a team should tank if it can't win a championship. Reaching the playoffs can be a fulfilling achievement and give the fans something to get excited about.

The Wizards, however, wouldn't ultimately gain that much by sneaking into a playoff position and getting beaten by the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors in the first round.

Renan Borelli @renan

+ glad the wiZards could show our friends across the pond what it’s like to contend for an 8 seed every year https://t.co/1WlOozM2Bc

Wall's injury presented Washington with a unique opportunity in that it could justifiably throw in the towel temporarily.

A lack of financial flexibility is one of the Wizards' biggest problems. Wall's four-year, $169.3 million extension is set to kick in next year, and Washington is projected to be $7.4 million over the salary cap, per Spotrac.

General manager Ernie Grunfeld doesn't have the cap space necessary to pursue marquee free agents, and he has little in the way of trade assets outside of Beal. The 2019 draft is the one avenue through which Grunfeld can make an impact.

At 19-26, the Wizards own the sixth-worst record in the NBA, and they have a 37.2 percent chance of landing a top-four selection, according to Tankathon.

If the front office is unwilling to execute a complete teardown of the roster, then it could at least position the team for a top-10 pick in the draft.


What's Next?

The Wizards return to the hardwood Monday and welcome the Detroit Pistons to the nation's capital. The Knicks are also off until Monday, when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder.