NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Maybe this won’t be the worst New York Knicks team ever.
The Knicks gave themselves a chance to avoid that dubious distinction by rallying from 10 points down after three quarters to beat the Washington Wizards 113-110 on Sunday night.
The Knicks (16-64) have two games remaining. They would have tied the franchise record with a 65th loss if they had fallen Sunday.
“There’s no quitters in this locker room, in this organization, and we’re just showing we have a great chemistry going around and it resulted in a win,” guard Mario Hezonja said. “So we’re not paying attention to standings or whatever it is. We just treat it as a development year and hopefully it results in something big next year.”
Hezonja scored a career-high 30 points and made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 44 seconds left. Luke Kornet added 17 points, Kevin Knox had 16 and Dennis Smith Jr. came off the bench for 15 despite battling back pain that had kept him out of the previous three games.
“I just don’t know how many teams at this point in the season have guys coming back playing hurt to help the team with a record like ours,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said, “and I just think that says a lot about these young guys and the character that they have.”
New York finished 17-65 under Derek Fisher in 2014-15.
The Knicks had lost nine straight at Madison Square Garden to the Wizards since their last victory on April 9, 2013, but Hezonja brought New York back with some big plays in the final period before a loud crowd in the 80th game of a miserable season.
Starting again at point guard, he added six rebounds and five assists.
Jeff Green had 19 points and Thomas Bryant scored 17 for the Wizards (32-49), who need to beat Boston on Tuesday in their final game to avoid a 50-loss season.
Hezonja’s 3-pointer made it 111-110, and the Knicks got the ball back when Sam Dekker lost it out of bounds. Hezonja hit two free throws for the final margin.
“They got hot. They made some tough shots. Mario made a big 3,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “We fouled at the end and we couldn’t make a shot.”
Washington led 56-52 at halftime but New York took a 68-67 lead on Hezonja’s follow shot with 7:41 remaining in the third. The Wizards ran off the next 13 points to go ahead 80-68 on Bobby Portis’ 3-pointer about three minutes later, and they took an 89-79 lead to the fourth.
New York made its first five 3s in the final quarter and charged back to take a 106-103 lead on Mitchell Robinson’s free throws with 2:20 to play.
Wizards: Bradley Beal scored 13 points, going 5 of 17 and landing hard after a dunk in the first half. … Jordan McRae sat out with a sore left Achilles tendon.
Knicks: Robinson had 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. … Fizdale isn’t sure if guards Allonzo Trier (left calf) and Kadeem Allen (concussion) will return this season.
Brooks said it’s hard not to look at the Eastern Conference, where a winning record wasn’t required to secure a playoff berth, and think the Wizards should’ve been there.
“Every year you go down, ‘OK, we came up short on that game, we should’ve won that game.’ You can list off a bunch of games. I’ve always done that. When we won 60 games in OKC we did the same thing,” Brooks said.
“There’s definitely opportunity the way the East is this year. There might be three teams right at .500 — 6, 7, 8. But can’t worry about that now. We’ve got to move forward and during a tough season a lot of good things happened.”
NO PROBLEM, HOUSTON
Fizdale wasn’t concerned with Rockets starters leaving the bench before the Knicks’ loss in Houston had ended on Friday, saying he didn’t know their reasons for doing so and didn’t need them to explain it to him.
“I’ve got a game today,” he said. “I’ve got the Wizards.”
Wizards: Host Boston on Tuesday.
Knicks: Visit Chicago on Tuesday.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)