WASHINGTON — After yet another loss for his New York Knicks in what’s been a trying — not to mention 3-9 — start to the season, Carmelo Anthony did not attempt to pretend everything is wonderful right now.
“It’s a very tough time,” Anthony said. “This is a time where you could easily put your head down and mope around, but I can’t do that.”
Taking their poor home-court play on the road, the Knicks allowed Washington’s John Wall to score 31 points and dropped into a last-place tie in the Atlantic Division by getting beaten 98-89 at the Wizards on Saturday night.
“We didn’t put a full 48 minutes together tonight,” said Anthony, who led the Knicks with 23 points and 12 rebounds. “We played three-fourths of the game — and that one quarter, they took advantage.”
Washington trailed 52-49 at halftime, but outscored New York 27-17 in the third quarter and never trailed again.
Wall registered at least 30 points in consecutive games for the first time in his NBA career, after scoring 37 in a loss to Toronto on Friday. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft also had seven assists and a soaring block on Iman Shumpert’s layup attempt in the closing seconds.
“John backed up last night’s game with another really good game for him. Playing the right way, taking really good shots,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “When he plays and takes what (a) defense gives him — (that) is the prime thing that he needs to do.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson described his team’s performance as “flat” and declared: “The only bright spot about tonight was Amare Stoudemire.”
That’s not a great sign when the best thing you can point to is that one of your many players who is either injured or returning from injury managed to play 21½ minutes and contribute 12 points. Stoudemire surpassed his previous season best in points — six — by early in the second quarter, and he even delivered a forceful fast-break dunk.
“We can’t keep losing these games,” said Stoudemire, whose club has the same record as the Brooklyn Nets.
Marcin Gortat added 16 points and 17 rebounds for the Wizards, who have won three of four games to improve to 5-8. Martell Webster scored 19, and Bradley Beal 18, making up for a paltry six points from Washington’s reserves.
J.R. Smith scored 15 for the Knicks, who shot only 44 percent on field-goal tries and were awful at the foul line, finishing 6 for 15. Smith himself was 0 for 4.
Knicks center Tyson Chandler remains out with a broken leg, and they were without point guard Raymond Felton for a third consecutive game because of a sore back. Woodson went without a true point guard for stretches of the fourth quarter.
Wall definitely noticed.
“We know it’s a different team without Raymond,” Wall said, “because Raymond does a great job of penetrating and getting shots for those guys.”
While they’d been decent on the road so far — 2-2 entering Saturday, compared to 1-6 at home — this was not the Knicks’ finest hour. In addition to missing Felton’s direction and Chandler’s pick-and-roll possibilities on offense, the defense had no one fast enough to slow down Wall at all.
Wall started 7 for 7 on field-goal attempts and scored more than half of Washington’s points — 17 of 33 — over the game’s first 14½ minutes. Later, his floater in the lane made it 76-69 entering the fourth.
Apparently, Woodson figures it already is time for some 1-on-1 meetings with players to make sure the season is not slipping away. That included a chat with Anthony after practice Friday.
“I just wanted to see where his head was,” Woodson said, “and making sure that everybody stays the course. Not just Melo. I’ve had some sit-downs with a few guys, just to let them know it’s still a long season and we’ve got to start picking it up.”
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