Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) scores against the LA Clippers in the first half at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on December 18, 2016. Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards twice won a playoff series during Bradley Beal's first four seasons. We will see if the current squad can match or exceed that amount of success. When it comes to confidence and home winning streak, they have already gone next level.
Beal scored 28 points and the surging Washington Wizards defeated the New York Knicks 117-101 on Tuesday night for their NBA-best 15th straight home win.
Markieff Morris had 24 points and 10 rebounds while John Wall had 15 points and 13 assists for the Wizards (28-20), who have won five straight and 12 of 14. Washington shot 55.7 percent from the field, outscored New York 32-22 in the third quarter and led by as many as 21 points.
The Knicks (21-29) played without Kristaps Porzingis and Derrick Rose, but it might not have mattered against one of the NBA's hottest teams.
Since Dec. 1, the Wizards are an Eastern Conference-best 22-9 including 12 wins in their last 14 games. Two of those recent victories came against the Knicks. Washington, which is 12-4 in January, matched the Golden State Warriors for the most wins in the month. No wonder Beal believes the collective confidence this season exceeds previous editions.
"For sure. I'd even say even the playoff [teams]," Beal said after hitting 12 of 18 field goal attempts. "Just the joy that we have and the fun we're having is amazing. It's always positive in here and we want nothing but the best for one another. It's great camaraderie."
As a reminder, Washington's summer included an overly dramatic discussion over whether Beal and backcourt partner John Wall get along. Then the Wizards started the season 2-8. There's little discussion about disharmony anymore.
"We play for each other, don't care who scores, who gets the most points," Beal continued. "We don't care who has a good night, who has a bad night just as long as it's a win at the end of the night."
There is nowhere near that amount of positive vibes emanating from the Knicks. New York finished January 5-12.
"Goodbye, January," said Carmelo Anthony, who paced New York with 26 points. "You got to find it every night. You got to dig deep and find it. Find energy every night. Even when you don't have it you got to find it."
Anthony scored 26 points on 10 of 17 shooting for New York, but his teammates often misfired. The Knicks, who have lost have lost two straight and seven of nine, shot 36.6 percent from the field and 5 of 24 on 3-pointers. Brandon Jennings had 21 points.
"We just didn't look like we had energy," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Porzingis was a late scratch due to illness and vomiting.
"He was laying on the bench and then he [went to] warm up and just felt like he was going to [get sick] again," Hornacek said. "Now all of a sudden we got to scramble a bit."
Willy Hernangomez replaced Porzingis, New York's second-leading scorer, and had 15 points and 14 rebounds in his first start of the season. Rose missed his second consecutive game with a sprained left ankle.
Marcin Gortat went 7-for-7 from the field while recording a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards. Kelly Oubre scored 14.
"Health for them is a big key. Guys clicking at the right time," Anthony said of the Wizards. "The way Otto's (Porter) been playing and shooting the basketball as of late. ... Kelly off the bench is bringing them a different dimension than what they had before."
Washington improved to 3-0 against New York this season. Turning a 59-54 halftime lead into a 91-76 score entering the fourth quarter helped. Porter scored all 10 of his points in the third.
"We're playing good basketball at home," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "Our guys are comfortable and they're defending. I thought we did a great job after half in the third quarter, held them to 22 points, and then we started moving the ball much better."
Wall had 15 points and nine assists in the first half as Washington entered halftime leading 59-54. Anthony had 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting, but the Knicks only made 40.8 percent of their attempts.
NOTES: Knicks F Kristaps Porzingis started 41 of New York's first 42 games this season. ... Washington last won 15 straight home games as the Bullets during the 1988-89 season. ... New York F Carmelo Anthony entered Tuesday's tilt averaging 27.0 points in 30 career games against Washington. ... The Knicks and Wizards close their four-game season series on April 6 in New York. ... Washington hosts the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday for the first of two meetings between the clubs.