The Knicks showed they don't have the triangle offense down to a science just yet, and when shots aren't falling, they tend to fall back on some of their old habits.
With a chance to register their third straight win on a night when John Wall was unspectacular, the Knicks sputtered offensively and fell, 98-83, to the Wizards Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Derek Fisher pulled most of his starters with 2:40 left and the Knicks down 13. They play again Wednesday night at Detroit, so Fisher probably wanted to give them a little rest. But the Knicks just didn't have the same effectiveness or intensity on either end as they had in the previous two games.
"It's just tough,'' Fisher said. "When the momentum changes and the game is getting away from you a little bit, we revert to some of our old habits. That happens sometimes early with us.''
Iman Shumpert led the Knicks with 19 points. Carmelo Anthony had 18 but shot only 8-for-23 and turned the ball over seven times. They were the only Knicks in double figures. Amar'e Stoudemire grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Knicks (2-2) shot 30-for-81 (37 percent). In the second half, they were 12-for-41 and had only four assists.
Paul Pierce and Garrett Temple each had 17 points for the Wizards, who had six players in double digits. Wall finished with 11 points and seven assists.
The third quarter was the Knicks' undoing. After leading by nine in the first half, the Knicks were outscored 32-15 in the third and trailed the Wizards by 14 late in the quarter.
"They wanted it more than we did at the start of the third quarter," Fisher said.
The Knicks made four of their first five shots in the fourth -- three of them threes -- and cut the deficit to 77-71 on a Shumpert jumper from deep. The Knicks drew no closer.
A Pierce three-pointer gave the Wizards an 86-75 lead with 5:11 to go. With a chance to get within seven with 3:59 left, Shane Larkin missed a foul shot and the Knicks were called for a lane violation on the next attempt.
The Wizards went ahead 90-77 after a Nene bucket with 2:41 left. Fisher called timeout and pulled Anthony, Stoudemire and Shumpert.
Before the game, Fisher said he liked the unselfishness the Knicks have shown.
"The culture that we're starting to create in terms of guys just being committed to each other and finding ways to sacrifice some of their individual goals and accomplishments for the betterment of the team,'' he said. "Those are things that we can build on as the season goes on.''
The Knicks moved the ball and tried to involve everyone in the first half, and all 10 players scored. Jason Smith had nine first-half points off the bench, matching Anthony's total.
The Knicks lost the lead in the third. The Wizards opened the half on a 14-3 run and went ahead 54-48 on Pierce's four-point play 3:31 into the third.
Instead of sharing the ball the way they did in the first half, the Knicks played more one-on-one. They didn't have an assist in the third quarter and missed 10 consecutive shots during a 5:42 stretch. They were outscored 14-0 and fell behind 70-56.
"When the game is getting away,'' Fisher said, "the feeling for each guy is 'I can do it. I can help us get back.' It's actually the reverse. We have to stay together.''