The Washington Wizards fell to 36-34 after a 105-102 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Washington got off to a hot start, let the Nuggets get back into it late in the first quarter, kept things close for the entire game and never seemed to develop an offensive rhythm.
The Nuggets' small-ball lineups, in which they played three players 6'3 or shorter next to Kenneth Faried and Timofey Mozgov, gave Washington problems all night. The Wizards have a tendency to attempt to beat teams with one-on-one post play when they have a large size advantage and, as is usually the case, it led to poor ball movement and isolations for players like Trevor Booker and Trevor Ariza. Meanwhile, as Washington's offense stalled, Denver's took off due to excellent spacing created by having three excellent shooters and playmakers on the floor at once.
The small lineups also seemed to flummox John Wall. With three point guards and the super-quick Faried on the floor at the same time, Wall struggled to get all the way to the basket and had way too many turnover to boot. Sure, he's big enough that it wasn't too difficult for him to simply pull up for a jumper, but when he's taking that shot, the rest of the Washington offense falls apart since no one else can command a double team. To his credit he played solid defense tonight in spite of how much energy it takes to stick with players like Aaron Brooks and Ty Lawson.
Washington's next game is Wednesday at home against the Phoenix Suns. Hopefully the days off will give them time to recharge and get back on track.
- Bradley Beal had a nasty block on Faried to go along with a solid overall game. He finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists and was the only Wizard perimeter player other than Ariza who seemed to be able to get anything going.
- Martell Webster had a quiet game and has been fairly unimpressive lately. I don't know if he's simply coming back down to earth a bit after overperforming for a year, if he's having health problems or if it's something else, but he's looked less mobile lately and it shows at both ends of the court. He was a defensive liability against Denver's smaller lineups and he struggled to free himself for three pointers. It may be worth it to give Porter another shot at earning some bench minutes.
- Faried's motor was on full display tonight. He played with limitless energy and made a lot happen simply through sheer effort. He needs to play next to a steady, conservative rim protecting big man a la Roy Hibbert or Tyson Chandler and be allowed to fully embrace a sort of free safety role on defense. He gambles too much so he occasionally does more harm than good in Denver, but if he was on a team with better defensive fundamentals and a veteran core he could be really special.
- Jan Vesely was more aggressive than normal today (what are the odds?) and had a good game, finishing with ten points almost entirely as a result of effort. He still looks awkward when he's doing anything other than dunking or running the floor and it will be interesting to see if Denver can do anything with him over the next month.
- If Faried was the player of the game, Randy Foye was a strong runner up. The former Wizard finished with 17 points off of only 11 field goal attempts and drained three after three from above the break. None of the other Denver perimeter players could get much going and his outside threat, combined with Faried's garbage buckets and dunks, was the backbone of the Denver offense.
- Andre Miller had a very quiet game in his return to Denver. I expected him to attempt to get back at the team that he had a huge falling out with and the players who took his spot but he more or less did his usual thing and didn't appear to force anything.
- More good stuff from Drew Gooden who finished with 15 points in 18 minutes. His jumper is practically automatic right now.