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Knicks working on closing out games vs. Wizards

Jan 16, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) dribbles against Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby (3) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Due to their struggles and inability to maintain leads in the fourth quarter, the New York Knicks hold the dubious distinction of being the only team with a winning record but a losing mark at home.

In the last month, the Knicks own five losses when leading after three quarters, and they hope to bounce back from the latest collapse Wednesday night when they host the Washington Wizards.

New York is 15-7 over its past 22 games and 7-5 at home in that span. Overall, New York is 11-12 at home and even some of those wins featured struggles down the stretch.

On Monday, the Knicks held a six-point lead entering the fourth quarter but took a 123-121 overtime home loss to the Toronto Raptors after blowing a 10-point lead in the final nine-plus minutes of regulation.

The loss to Toronto occurred a week after the Knicks wasted a 17-point lead in a 111-107 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. Besides failing to close out Toronto and Milwaukee, the Knicks also held leads going into the fourth quarter at home before falling to Chicago on Dec. 23, Philadelphia on Dec. 25 and at Dallas on Dec. 27.

Besides the recent losses, the Knicks also blew a 14-point lead at home to Portland on Nov. 25 and a 23-point lead at home to Atlanta Nov. 2 as they began the season with 13 losses in 23 games.

“It’s frustrating,” New York guard Jalen Brunson said. “Obviously, we want to win at home. We have the best fan bases in the world, but this is obviously a historic place to play on and everybody’s coming here with their best foot forward. I think for us, we just got to focus on the little things. A lot of these losses come (down to) to one or two possessions. We have to be 1, 2 percent better.”

RJ Barrett led the Knicks with 22 of his 32 points after halftime, including a game-tying dunk at the end of regulation. Brunson added 26 but was 4-of-16 in the second half and overtime and missed a game-winning 3 at the end of the extra period.

Washington is facing the Knicks for the second time in three games. On Friday, the Wizards nearly erased a 15-point deficit in the final 8 1/2 minutes before New York held on for a 112-108 win.

Washington has lost five of six following a five-game winning streak Dec. 23-Jan 1. The Wizards are also 7-6 in their past 13 since ending a 10-game skid last month.

In Monday’s 127-118 home loss to the Golden State Warriors, former Knick Kristaps Porzingis scored 32 points but struggled in the fourth when the Wizards were outscored 34-25 and allowed the Warriors to shoot 61.9 percent. Kyle Kuzma was held to 16 on 5-of-20 shooting after scoring 40 against New York on Friday.

The Wizards played without Bradley Beal (left hamstring) and he is expected to miss his sixth straight game Wednesday. Washington is 10-14 with Beal in the lineup and its players are optimistic the record will improve when the star guard returns.

“We don’t have our best player,” Porzingis said. “We’re playing with what we have and we’re almost there. Maybe the record is not looking great, but I believe we will get there.”

Until Beal returns, Monte Morris will likely remain as the starting point guard. He was held out Friday due to a hamstring injury but returned Monday to collect 17 points and 10 assists.

–Field Level Media