THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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The Washington Wizards just wouldn't go away, all night. The New York Knicks just couldn't shake their opponents off, all night. The 2019 NBA London game went down to the final 0.4 seconds after a somewhat controversial end to the Wizards' 101-100 win at the 02 Arena.
The Knicks were seemingly in control of the game throughout the evening as the sold-out event had the look of an upset, New York only having won 10 times so far this season. They had led by 10 points at halftime, and as many as 16 during the third quarter. Washington then started their comeback. They outscored the Knicks 24-11 in the final period of play, the pivotal moments coming in the last minute.
Noah Vonleh went past Thomas Bryant to put New York ahead by a point with 33 seconds left. Shot selection was then key and both sides miscued on three-point attempts, Bradley Beal missing his go-ahead shot, and Kevin Knox was hurried by the shot clock running down in what would've cemented the win for New York. With 3.3 seconds left. The final scoring play was set up by Trevor Ariza as he drove to the basket. He passed the ball out to Bryant who laid the ball up only for Allonzo Trier to knock the ball away. The ball was adjudged to be on its downward trajectory and therefore goaltending was called. Not the most satisfying way to end a thrilling game but nonetheless it was the right call. New York had one last attempt, but with just 0.4 of a second left the quick shot by Emmanuel Mudiay was off target.
Mudiay had the hot hand for the Knicks with 25 points, and was ably backed up by Luke Kornet with 16, 12 of which came in a fast paced opening quarter. The Wizards were, as expected, led by Beal's 26 points, with Otto Porter Jnr adding 20. Beal had a slow start only scoring 8 points in the first half, this was a lead reason to why the Wizards were trailing for so long. That, and the Knicks were proving to be stubborn opponents. But the Knicks ultimately went down to their fifth straight loss in a season which is starting to feel instantly forgettable.
So, with another game in London safely in the books, and another exciting one at that, eyes turn already to next year and what the NBA can deliver. There is though a very strong hint that the league could look elsewhere in 2020. Commissioner Adam Silver, speaking to the media on the Thursday, "I'm told I'm not allowed to break any news today, but it is possible. It is something we're looking at very closely, to play a game in Paris next season." The NBA hasn't played in France since 2010, a preseason game, but the game there is big and has given the league many stars including the great Tony Parker. At present it is still undecided as to whether the Paris game is a definite, and if indeed it will replace a London game or run as a double-header as the game goes even more global.
Back to the action on the night though, and as expected the usual mix of celebrities were courtside to lap up the excitement. Footballers, musicians, actors, reality TV stars, and supermodels were all accounted for. This is not to suggest they aren't fans but the ones who pay for the privilege to see their heroes on the court were the real winners after another evening of drama that only whets the appetite further and is an encouraging sign for what the summer may bring when the MLB visit London in late June.