(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Wizards can still improve their playoff positioning with seven games left in the regular season and look to maintain stride in the Eastern Conference race Friday versus the New York Knicks.
The Wizards will close out a five-game homestand (2-2) with the Knicks in town and are fifth in the East standings - three games behind Toronto and Chicago for the conference's third seed.
Washington remained within striking distance thanks to a 106-93 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday at the Verizon Center. Marcin Gortat was an enforcer with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, and Bradley Beal scored 20 points for the Wizards, who made a season-high 57.9 percent from the field and grabbed 47 boards to Philadelphia's 34.
"I thought we were focused right from the start, third quarter as well," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. "Our guys are looking for opportunities and we have to learn to continue to play the way we (were)."
John Wall finished with 13 points and 15 assists. He is posting an average of 26.0 points and 9.8 assists in his last four games. Wall is listed as probable for Friday night's game with a bruised cheekbone.
Beal is averaging 17.0 ppg in his past three, while Gortat has recorded 12.9 points and 10.3 rebounds in 21 contests since the All-Star break.
The Wizards, who have a 24-3 mark when holding teams under 100 points at home, are 27-12 as the host and will play the next three games on the road against Memphis, Philadelphia and Brooklyn.
New York looks to stop an eight-game slide Friday and is winless in the past five away from Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks almost pulled off a win over the Nets, but Brook Lopez had other plans and his layup with two seconds remaining was the difference in a 100-98 decision. The Knicks trailed by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter and tied the game on a Cleanthony Early 3-pointer with 1:07 to go.
After a couple empty possessions, Nets guard Deron Williams drove the lane on Brooklyn's final touch. His shot was off the mark and so was Lopez's tip-in, but Lopez corralled the ball again and laid it in.
"I was right there around the rim and I just tried to keep it alive and put it back in," Lopez said.
Early's straightaway 3-pointer from the top of the arc at the other end was off the mark for the Knicks, who have the worst record in the NBA at 14-61.
Andrea Bargnani netted 22 points and Early scored all 14 off his points off the bench in the final stanza.
"Winning in this league generally always comes down to getting a stop," Knicks coach Derek Fisher said.
New York has a 5-33 road ledger this season and will play the next three games at home versus Philadelphia, Indiana and Milwaukee.
The Knicks are 0-3 against the Wizards this season and have lost the last six games in this series. Washington has won two in a row in DC versus New York.