LOS ANGELES • Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points but it was not enough to prevent the New York Knicks from sliding to defeat against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday - in their first National Basketball Association game since the dismissal of coach Derek Fisher.
Anthony drained a three-pointer with 67 seconds left to reduce Washington's lead to 106-101 but the Wizards held on for a 111-108 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Washington guards Bradley Beal and John Wall made a series of clutch shots down the stretch to seal the Wizards' win.
Beal amassed 26 points while Wall weighed in with 28, 15 of them coming in an important fourth-quarter cameo.
Rookie forward Kristaps Porzingis finished with 20 points for the Knicks, who abruptly axed Fisher on Monday and replaced him with assistant Kurt Rambis.
Anthony said shortly before tip-off on Tuesday that the Knicks' locker room had been taken by surprise by team president Phil Jackson's decision to dump Fisher.
"This was something that I don't really know if it was a quick decision or was lingering," said the star forward. "I'm not going to try to figure that part out but everybody found out as far as players around the same time yesterday morning."
Fisher was fired after the Knicks lost nine of 10 games.
"It's an unfortunate situation that I've been a part of multiple times through my career," Anthony added. "You become kind of immune to it at this point and understand that this is part of the business."
He entered Tuesday's game averaging 21.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and a career-best 4.2 assists.
His willingness to pass the ball and defer more to younger team-mates like Porzingis has been a bright spot even as he continues to labour with his shooting (42.2 per cent from the field) and with soreness in his left knee.
When Jackson met the media on Monday, he praised Anthony.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES