Here's your recap roundup for last night's entertaining 119-113 win over the Nuggets. As always, check out our StoryStream and head on over to Monumental Network to check out postgame interviews with Randy Wittman, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Emeka Okafor and A.J. Price.
With his team coming off losses to Detroit and Toronto - teams, like Washington, that are currently not in the playoff picture - Wittman wanted the Wizards to get back to being the free-flowing, ball-sharing team they were before the all-star break. They responded with a performance in which seven players scored in double figures and the team had 27 assists.
The win was the ninth in 11 games at home for the Wizards (16-37), who scored their second-most points of the season, improved to 11-9 with Wall in the lineup and swept their season series with Denver for the first time since 2001-02. The Nuggets (34-22), who recently won nine games in a row, lost their fourth straight road game and dropped to 11-19 overall away from the Mile High City.
"I think we got back to where we wanted to be before the break started," said John Wall who had 10 assists to go along with 14 points. "In the game before this when we played Toronto we didn't play as a team and trust each other. But the last two days at practice we got back to trusting each other. On any given night you never know who may be our leading scorer and that's one good thing about this team."
BONUS: George Karl on Bradley Beal:
[via Adam McGinnis]
"He is going to be a good player. The comparison to Ray Allen is legit. He seems like he is getting more comfortable with the ball and making more decisions. I like their back court a lot. Their back court plays like I like to play. They play fast and athletic. Penetrate well. Beal is going to be one of the top shooters in the game in time."
Beal, who finished 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, banged his head while fouling Ty Lawson as the guard drove to the basket with 1:07 to play. Beal lay on the floor for a few moments but was quickly back in the game and hit a pair of clinching free throws in the final seconds.
He was wearing a mouth guard because of his head-to-head collision with Martin in practice a day earlier, an impact so powerful that Martin said the doctor removed parts of Beal's teeth while sewing more than a dozen stitches to close the wound.
''It's been a tough week,'' Beal said.
After an extremely competitive first half, something changed at the opening of the second. The Wizards jumped all over the Nuggets, opening the half on a 13-0 run and mustering up a 16 point lead by the time the quarter was done. The Nuggets did not score their first points of the quarter until five and a half minutes in. The fourth quarter was once again a different story line, as after the Wizards would stretch the lead to 18, the Nuggets would run off an 18-4 run to cut the lead to four with six minutes to go in the game. The two teams went back and forth over the next five minutes and the Nuggets found themselves within two with less than a minute to go. John Wall though would hit a 19-footer for the dagger with 13 seconds to play to push the lead to four and close the game.
Whatever defensive adjustments head coach Randy Wittman arranged for during the break played out big-time for the Wizards. Washington started the third quarter on a 13-0 run, boosted by a Wall-to-Martell Webster alley oop that brought the crowd of 16,527 to its feet.
"[Defense was] all we talked about at halftime," Wittman said after the game. "We didn't talk anything offensively. We got four straight stops coming out in the third quarter and I thought our intensity picked up from that defensive standpoint."
The inconsistency that John Wall showed this game almost seemed like a microcosm of his entire career. He racked up the assists, but had quite a few costly fourth quarter turnovers that allowed the Nuggets to get as close as they did. He had three blocks, but was torched by Ty Lawson much of the game. But give credit where credit is due: on a final possession where the Wizards needed a score, John Wall drained a crucial jump shot. Maybe we are seeing progress right before our very eyes.
The Wizards never seem to make it easy for us folks. A 16-point lead was nearly squandered after the Nuggets opened up the final period outscoring the Wizards 25-12. The game seemed to be moving at a very comfortable pace after the Wizards went lockdown on defense, holding the Nuggets to only 14 points in the 3rd after scoring 64 in the first half. The Nuggets avenged their poor start of the second half with a 35 point 4th quarter rally, but John Wall put the clamps on a Denver comeback with a few clutch jumpers -- yes, jumpers -- that sealed a much needed victory for the Wizards.
The Washington Wizards scored three consecutive quarters of 30 points or more against the Nuggets, as the Nuggets offered little resistance either in the paint or on the perimeter. Emeka Okafor looked like a juggernaut, powering through the paper-maiche like defense of Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee all game. As mentioned in the preview, the Wizards are the worst team in the NBA at scoring - yet they broke their season per game average by the third quarter, scoring 94 points and nearly 30 above their season average. The defensive rotations looked confused, there was little cohesion on the perimeter, and - stop me if you've heard this before - the Nuggets once again let another team obliterate them from beyond the arc, as the Wizards shot 11-24 from the perimeter, and were 10-19 at one point.
"They're a better team than their record says," Denver forward Wilson Chandler said of the Wizards. "And they just played harder than us, that's the bottom line, guards and the bigs."
The Nuggets lost at home to Washington on Jan. 18, an embarrassing performance in front of the Pepsi Center crowd. But the Wizards had started to play good ball then - and still are, it seems, or at least against Denver.
"I think sometimes when we play so-called better teams, we feel as though we have something to prove," Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. "I think we come out harder, that much harder."