Bradley Beal scores 39, leads Wizards past Knicks 122-115
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By GREG SWATEK
WASHINGTON (AP) Bradley Beal got back to his high-scoring ways with 39 points, lifting the Washington Wizards to a 122-115 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
Beal overcame a slow start and surpassed the 25-point plateau for the 22nd time in 23 games. His string of 21 such games was snapped Sunday when he scored 23 in a loss to Miami.
"I hated how I closed out the (last) game," said Beal, who was 0 for 9 in the fourth quarter against the Heat.
The Wizards' win meant the Heat will have to wait at least one more day to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Miami can do so with a home win Wednesday against Charlotte.
Beal connected on five of his first 15 shots against the Knicks, but then made six of 10 the rest of the way.
"What helps me, and what helps us as a team, is when we have fun," he said. "We enjoy each other. We play for one another. We hold each other accountable but we still enjoy the game."
Shabazz Napier added 21 points for the Wizards.
Bobby Portis and Frank Ntilikina each scored 20 points to lead the Knicks. For Ntilikina, it was a career high. Julius Randle added 16 for New York before fouling out.
"We were anticipating Bradley Beal having a (big) second half, and we needed to come out and do a better job of containing," Knicks coach Mike Miller said.
Both teams squandered big leads. The Wizards lost a 14-point lead in the first quarter, and the Knicks blew an 18-point advantage in the third.
The teams are out of the playoff hunt in the East, and it sounded as if there were more Knicks fans than Wizards supporters in the stands.
When it was announced late in the first quarter that a 3-pointer by Ntilikina was overturned by replay review, there were more boos than cheers in the more-than-half-empty arena. Chants of "Let's go, Knicks!" and "MVP" could be heard as rookie RJ Barrett shot free throws.
Knicks: G Dennis Smith Jr. was cleared from the concussion protocol but did not play.
Wizards: G Jerome Robinson was back in the starting lineup after missing Sunday's game against Miami with an Achilles injury. ... G Ish Smith missed his fourth consecutive game with left hamstring tightness. ... F Isaac Bonga did not play due to a groin contusion.
The Knicks have postponed their planned anniversary celebration of the franchise's 1970 NBA championship because of concerns about the novel coronavirus. New York is working with players from that title team to reschedule events originally set for Madison Square Garden on March 21, when the Knicks host the Golden State Warriors.
RUI BOUNCES BACK
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said before the game the team planned to get struggling rookie Rui Hachimura involved early, and that's exactly what happened.
Hachimura took a feed from Thomas Bryant on the game's opening possession for an uncontested dunk. He had been 0 for 14 from the field in the Wizards' two prior games.
After being held scoreless in Sunday's loss to Miami, Hachimura connected on three of his first four from the field and scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half.
"He wasn't stressed out that he was never going to be able to have a great game again," Brooks said.
CLOSED LOCKER ROOMS
Both locker rooms were closed to the media in keeping with the league's new policy to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Players and coaches spoke to reporters in designated interview areas.
"Our locker room is a lot more quiet now," Beal joked after the game.
Knicks: At Atlanta on Wednesday.
Wizards: At Boston on Friday.
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Updated March 10, 2020