PREVIEW: With New York Knicks coming to town, Washington Wizards focus on defense

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Feb 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal runs the offense against the Charlotte Hornets in the first half at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors pounded the Washington Wizards 137-115 on Wednesday night as defense remains a big problem for coach Scott Brooks’ team.

Brooks said he liked how hard his team kept working and leading scorer Bradley Beal praised the Wizards for continuing to fight back.

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“It’s frustrating because we’re in games. We have opportunities to win, like, we were down four or six, whatever it was … we’re right there in the game,” Beal said. “And all of a sudden I look up and we’re down 10. We’re down 15. It’s like, well. How are these runs happening, and why aren’t we closing out games the way we need to? It’s always a few mistakes here and there.”

The Wizards will try to minimize those mistakes when they host the New York Knicks on Friday night.

Beal leads the NBA in scoring with 32.8 points per game and often has carried the Washington offense, especially with Russell Westbrook out at times. Beal posted 24 points in the Toronto loss while Westbrook added 23.

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Still, the Wizards need to get away from the problems that have plagued them this season and last — poor defense. They’ve got the offense and can score; players such as Beal and Westbrook guarantee that. But they give up points in bunches, hurting their chances to come back in games.

Meanwhile, the Knicks got a few pieces of good news this week. First came the trade that reunited guard Derrick Rose and coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose scored 14 points in 20 minutes in a 98-96 loss at Miami on Tuesday.

“I just wanted to be comfortable,” Rose told ESPN. “Like I said, I’ve been knowing these guys ever since high school, eighth grade, high school, so coming here, like I said, it’s family. I never really thought about anything else but really getting here and understanding they wanted me to help grow the young guys they’ve already got here.”

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Rose was in the backcourt with rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley for most of the night, a combination that New York hopes will work well.

Rose should be a big addition to a New York offense trying to find its way. He’s older now but can certainly run an offense and score points. Or the coaches could bring him off the bench as a powerful tool, which appears to be what Thibodeau wants now.

The Knicks also are going to get some fans at home games, thanks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He informed the team earlier this week that it can have some fans when it plays home games at Madison Square Garden.

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In a statement, the Knicks said: “We intend to host roughly 2,000 fans at every game, beginning with the Feb. 23 Knicks game against the Warriors.”

–Field Level Media