Even if the New York Knicks were looking ahead to their game against the Miami Heat, Carmelo Anthony made sure his team still picked up a victory over the Washington Wizards along the way.
Anthony scored 30 points, Raymond Felton added 23, J.R. Smith chipped in with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and some strong defense allowed the Knicks to beat the Wizards 96-88 Friday night.
Rookie Bradley Beal led the Wizards with a career-high 29 points, falling just short of giving the team its first 30-point performance this season. But after his 3-pointer with about 4 minutes left pulled Washington within 87-86, the Knicks held the Wizards without a field goal the rest of the way.
Anthony's 3-pointer with under 2½ minutes remaining gave the Knicks a 92-87 cushion, and they held on.
The Knicks won their third game in a row following a season-worst, four-game losing streak, getting back in gear right in time to host LeBron James and reigning NBA champion Miami on Sunday afternoon.
John Wall had 16 points, six assists and five turnovers for Washington, Trevor Ariza scored 15, and Emeka Okafor finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Wizards were held to 42 percent shooting.
Thanks mainly to Smith, the Knicks closed the first half on a 9-0 run to lead 54-48 after two quarters. Smith made consecutive 3-pointers during that stretch — holding his thumb and index finger together and flashing a "3'' with his other fingers after the second bucket — then assisted on Anthony's layup.
Anthony had a game-high 15 points at halftime, while Smith was at 10. Beal led the Wizards with 11 in the first half.
Beal really got going in the third quarter, scoring 12 points, including a 5-foot floater that capped a 16-2 spurt that turned an 11-point deficit into a 72-69 lead for the host.
The Wizards were up 77-73 at the start of the fourth quarter, but went cold. They missed seven field-goal attempts in a row over a 4-minute span and New York scored 10 straight points.
In one key sequence that began with Washington leading 77-75, Beal missed a 3-point try at one end, allowing Jason Kidd to head the other way all alone. Wall gave chase and, just as Kidd tried to lay the ball in, the Wizards guard swiped his hand to block it. Goaltending was called, and Wall leaped in the air and punched a fist in anger, earning a technical, too. Anthony made the free throw to give New York a lead, and it never trailed again.
While the Wizards were without forward-center Nene for the second consecutive game because of a sore right shoulder, the Knicks' starting lineup looked different, too: Kidd was replaced by little-used James White.
Kidd started 48 of the other 49 games he appeared in this season for New York.
He checked in for the first time Friday with 7 minutes, 5 seconds gone in the first quarter, taking the place of point guard Felton. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said before the game he made the move to get Kidd more chances "to run our team" with the second unit, rather than needing to share the ball with Felton on the first unit.
Kidd had four points and five assists in 28 minutes; he went 0 for 4 on 3-point tries.