Wizards lose 19-point lead, fall to New York Knicks

Wizards lose 19-point lead, fall to Knicks originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the New York Knicks 115-109 on Friday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

Big lead vanished

No lead has been safe in recent Wizards games going back several weeks, as they have been on both ends of enormous comebacks. That trend continued on Friday with the Knicks erasing a 19-point deficit to beat Washington in the first game back from the All-Star break.

Washington built a 19-point lead in the first half but saw New York go on a 22-7 run to close the second quarter and then open the third with an 8-0 burst. It was a tough loss for the Wizards, who were hoping to gain some ground on the sixth-ranked team in the Eastern Conference.

The Wizards fell to 28-31 on the season. They entered the All-Star break winners of 10 of 14 but were not able to carry that over in the first game of the proverbial second half. They get the Bulls up next on Sunday afternoon.

Porzingis in the 1st

Kristaps Porzingis has been setting a lot of career highs this season and on Friday he added a couple more feats to the list. In the first quarter, he set career-highs in both points (19) and threes (five) in a single frame. The Knicks had absolutely no answer for him early on, as he kept finding daylight from the perimeter and making them pay.

Porzingis may have caught Mitchell Robinson off guard after a five-week layoff due to a thumb injury, but the Knicks were able to adjust. Porzingis cooled off significantly afterward, going scoreless in both the second and third quarters before ending up with 23 points for the night. The Knicks started throwing double teams and not even letting him shoot. He had 10 field goal attempts for the game, only four combined in the final three quarters.

So many 3s

Porzingis got the Wizards started, but he wasn't the only one hot from long-range. They shot 19-for-44 (43.2%) from three as a team for the game and made 12 threes in the first half alone. Porzingis had five triples for the game, while Delon Wright also tied a career-high with five and Kyle Kuzma had three of them.

Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. loves what he calls 'paint threes,' where players drive into the paint and kick it out to their teammates. The Wizards had a ton of those in this game, as they did a terrific job breaking down the defense off the dribble, drawing double teams and then finding open shooters. NBA players love those shots because the passes come from the same angle they receive passes most often in practice, i.e. when a rebounder is around the basket throwing them the ball.

Banged up

The Wizards returned from the All-Star break with some surprising news that Bradley Beal was dealing with knee soreness. It was surprising because Beal's last quarter, against the Timberwolves a week ago, was perhaps his best of the season. He scored 17 points and took over to deliver the WIzards a win. Beal was considered questionable for this game but was able to play while wearing tape around his right kneecap. He had 16 points in 36 minutes, so below his usual output, but he also had eight assists.

In addition to Beal, the Wizards saw Monte Morris leave for an extended period of time with what appeared to be a lower back issue, though he did return. And Deni Avdija tweaked his right knee when Porzingis inadvertently rolled into him. He was also fine. Finally, Porzingis spent part of the third quarter getting checked out by trainers. It's unclear what it was and he, too, came back.

Randle a handful

The Wizards can blame one person in particular for why this game swung around and that is Julius Randle, as he took the torch from Porzingis to torch the Wizards, especially in the first half. He had 12 points in the first quarter, 25 by halftime and finished the game with 46 points to tie a career-high.

Kuzma said during his walk-off halftime interview with Meghan McPeak that the Wizards' biggest key to a victory in the second half was stopping Randle, his former Lakers teammate. Still, they were unable to solve him, as he lit them up from three and bulled his way to the rim with strong finishes in transition. Randle is an All-Star and looked every bit the part in this one.