John Wall will look to spread holiday cheer to his Wizards against the Knicks on Christmas.The Knicks host the Wizards on Christmas Day (ESPN, noon ET) for the first of an NBA tripleheader on ESPN networks. It's the sixth straight season the Knicks have participated in the NBA's Christmas Day lineup, posting a 2-3 record in the last five.
This is the third time that these two franchises have met on Christmas, all at Madison Square Garden, with the Bullets/Wizards winning the first two. The first was 50 years ago, a 114-108 Baltimore win in 1964, and the last was 41 years ago, in 1973, when the Capital Bullets prevailed 102-100 over the Knicks (including current Knicks president Phil Jackson).
Another anniversary of note is Basketball Hall of Famer Bernard King's NBA Christmas Day record of 60 points against New Jersey in 1984. That also was the Knicks' single-game scoring mark until it was broken by Carmelo Anthony with 62 points against the Bobcats in January last season.
Most Points in a Christmas Day Game
This is the second meeting between these two teams this season. Washington defeated New York 98-83 on Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden, with Iman Shumpert leading all scorers with 19 points. That extended the Wizards' winning streak against New York to four dating back to last season, their longest string of success since winning five straight vs. the Knicks from December 2001 to January 2003.
Going in Different Directions
Washington’s 19-8 record is good for second in the Southeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference. It’s also the third-best start in franchise history through 27 games, trailing only the 1968-69 Baltimore Bullets and 1974-75 Washington Bullets; each team went 20-7 to start the season. Both of those teams won the division and reached the league semifinals; the 1974-75 squad, led by Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, reached the NBA Finals but was swept by the Warriors.
The Knicks are off to the worst 30-game start in franchise history at 5-25 and are getting beaten on the inside and outside. The Knicks rank last in the NBA in defending the 3-point line (38.9 percent) and are second-worst in rebounds per game (39.1). Most of all, their offense is struggling under the triangle implemented by first-year coach Derek Fisher.
The Great Wall
Most Games This Season
With 20 Points, 10 Assists
New York will have to contain John Wall, who is leading the Wizards to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. He’s averaging 17.8 points and a career-high 10.5 assists per game, which ranks second in the NBA only to Rajon Rondo. There has been only one other player in franchise history who’s averaged as many as 15 points and 10 assists per game: Rod Strickland in 1997-98 with the Bullets, and nobody has more games with 20 points and 10 assists this season.
Leaguewide, Wall could become just the fourth player to average as many as 17 points and 10 assists in a single season, joining Chris Paul (four times), Deron Williams (four times) and Steve Nash (twice).