Knicks aim to build on momentum at home vs. Wizards

NBA

The New York Knicks aim to build momentum off a rare home victory when they host the Washington Wizards on Thursday.

The Knicks snapped a five-game losing skid at Madison Square Garden with a 105-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. The victory was just their third in their last 11 games overall.

Mitchell Robinson collected 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks to lift New York to its first win at home since a 106-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 23.

“A lot of credit to all the guys because there’s a lot of moving parts right now and to find a way to win is the most important thing,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You can’t say enough about what Mitch did. That’s his best game right there. That’s a monster game. Big play after big play.”

Robinson sank 8 of 9 shots from the floor on Tuesday, five days removed from making all eight of his attempts in New York’s 116-103 victory over the Houston Rockets.

“I was feeding off the energy that was all around us,” Robinson said. “The team was playing good, sharing the game, and I was just feeding off them, really.

“We’re down some guys right now, and everybody has to do extra.”

RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin missed Tuesday’s game but have since been cleared from COVID-19 protocols. Five others remain in the NBA’s health and safety protocols: Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, Kevin Knox II, Miles McBride and Nerlens Noel.

The Knicks did not say whether Barrett or Toppin would suit up Thursday night. Both have missed the last five games and have not played since Dec. 10.

The numbers game once again put Kemba Walker in play. The New York native has answered a nine-game benching with 29 points in the Knicks’ 114-107 setback at Boston on Saturday and 21 more versus Detroit.

“If you are playing well, you are going to be in there. That’s the way it works,” Thibodeau said. “I love Kemba. My job is to do what’s best for the team. He’s playing great basketball. All the credit in the world to him. But the team winning is the most important thing.”

The Wizards have been idle since snapping a four-game losing skid with a 109-103 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday. They were scheduled to face Brooklyn on Tuesday, however the NBA postponed that game due to an outbreak of COVID-19 within the Nets.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who drained a clutch 3-pointer in the waning moments of Washington’s win over Utah, entered the league’s health and safety protocol two days later following a positive COVID-19 test.

“We will be vigilant with our testing and continue to test as we have,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Hopefully that’s the extent of it, but as we’ve seen around the league and around the country, as cases spike, we just have to be a little more careful about where we go and who we’re with.”

Bradley Beal hopes his offense continues after erupting for a season-high 37 points on 13-of-24 shooting versus the Jazz. Beal, who also had a team-high seven assists, has reached the 30-point plateau on three occasions in his last seven games.

Deni Avdija had 11 points to record his third straight double-digit performance. He has reached double figures in seven games this season.

New York won all three encounters between the teams last season.

–Field Level Media

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