Bradley Beal delivered the big shot and just enough points at the end to beat a bad Knicks team.
Next weekend, the competition gets better and the Washington Wizards know being good on offense won't be good enough.
"We have a bigger picture," John Wall said. "We're trying to play for the playoffs and play for something special so we have to do a better job defensively. Defense is a big factor in the playoffs because every possession matters. Offense and all that is not our problem."
Beal scored 25 points and made the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 49 seconds left as Washington beat New York 106-103 on Thursday night.
Wall added 24 points and eight assists for the Wizards, who blew a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter but recovered to improve to 48-31, tying Toronto for third place in the Eastern Conference. Washington is trying for its first 50-win season since 1978-79.
Marcin Gortat was 7 for 7 from the field and scored 16 points for the Wizards. They have won seven straight at Madison Square Garden.
Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points for the Knicks, who are a loss away from their third consecutive 50-loss season.
New York erased an 89-77 deficit to tie it at 101 after Anthony knocked down consecutive jumpers, but Beal got free for a corner 3 that made it 104-101.
"As soon as I drove the ball, Carmelo came over and helped. Whenever I see two defenders, I try to get off the ball and relocate," Beal said. "I kept moving and all I needed was an inch of space and I shot the ball with confidence."
He later added a pair of free throws and Washington held on when Anthony missed a 3-pointer to finish a 7-for-19 night from the field.
"The way that the game was going, especially coming down to the last couple minutes of the game, I wish we'd have had a different result," Anthony said. "But guys fought, guys played gave us an opportunity to even be in the game."
Wizards: Washington played without Markieff Morris (sore right ankle). ... The Wizards have beaten the Knicks six straight times.
Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis didn't play because of a sore lower back. Justin Holiday scored 16 points off the Knicks bench.
Brandon Jennings scored four points off Washington's bench in his first trip back to Madison Square Garden since signing with the Wizards in March. Jennings signed with the Knicks in July but was waived in February so he could seek a bigger role on a contender.
"He gives us a little bit of a swagger, he gives us some confidence," coach Scott Brooks said. "He hasn't made shots like he will but he makes plays for us, he gets guys open shots, he pushes the tempo."
The Wizards have won 13 of the last 14 meetings. Before that, the Knicks had a 10-game winning streak that started in the 2009-10 season.
The Knicks honored MSG Network broadcaster Mike Breen with the ninth annual Dick McGuire Knickerbocker Legacy Award, given by the family of the Hall of Fame player and team employee to a person who "exudes the qualities of what it means to be a Knickerbocker." Breen, in his 25th season doing play-by-play for MSG, also has called the last 11 NBA Finals for ABC.
Wizards: Host Miami on Saturday, the first of two remaining meetings for the Southeast Division rivals.
Knicks: Visit Memphis on Friday for their final road game of the season. The Knicks have lost their last five trips to the FedEx Forum.