Washington used a balanced attack to defeat the Denver Nuggets by a score of 109-104 on Monday night. It was a wire to wire battle, which wasn’t always pretty for the Wizards, but they used a productive night across the board to win the first game of their West Coast road trip. Bradley Beal led the scoring charge with 20 points while John Wall and Otto Porter had 19 and 17, respectively.
The Wizards got off to a relatively slow start and didn’t control the game throughout the first half. Credit to Nikola Jokic who was red hot out of the gate. He would finish with 29 points. The Nuggets out-rebounded Washington in addition to beating the Wiz in transition, and Denver jumped out to an 11-0 run to start the second quarter. Washington’s starters came back to close the gap, and thanks to Beal’s buzzer-beating layup, the Wizards led 56-55 at the half.
Scott Brooks’ bunch opened the third quarter with a run of their own to put them up by 6, but the lead wouldn’t grow past that, as the teams traded buckets for the remainder of the quarter. Going into the fourth, the Wizards were shooting just 44 percent from the field, but had forced 20 Denver turnovers. Their defense managed to keep them in this game, despite the Nuggets shooting 53 percent entering the final frame.
Handling prosperity has become an issue early on this year, and it was again tonight, as the Wizards failed to hold onto extended leads. Granted, tonight this only pertains to eight point margins, but it followed suit from blown leads in their previous two games.
The Wizards held strong down the stretch, with guys like Kelly Oubre stepping up in key spots when needed. Washington was also helped out in the final minute tonight, as Jokic bumped Scott Brooks heading into a timeout. This resulted in a technical foul, that helped the Wizards extend the lead to three before Bradley Beal made a layup to ice the game.
Thanks to the win, coupled with Toronto’s loss to San Antonio, the Wizards are the only undefeated team left in the Eastern Conference.
Porter holds his own against Millsap
Otto Porter was great again tonight, continuing his trend of taking a high volume of shots (6-13 FG), while also battling underneath with 10 rebounds. He did a great job helping to deal with Paul Millsap down low, which was extremely beneficial without Markieff Morris and Jason Smith.
Wall survives bad shooting night by getting to the line
John Wall got off to a slow start tonight, starting 0-5 from the field, and was just 3-13. His aggressiveness by getting to the line paid off however, as he was 13-15 from the charity stripe. The 15 attempts are tied for the sixth-most he’s ever earned in a game and continues a positive trend of Wall getting to the stripe more often this season. He’s earned 35 free throw attempts in his first three games.
The defense delivers
As we mentioned earlier, the Wizards were great on defense tonight, and much of that was thanks to effective switches from start to finish. Denver loves to run baseline screens involving their backcourt, and Wall and Beal were seamless in their switches tonight.
- There was a Tomas Satoransky sighting tonight! The 25-year-old was solid in his season debut, going 2-2 from the field with 5 points.
- Speaking of bench minutes, Brooks went with a 10 man rotation in the first half tonight. Chris McCullough and Carrick Felix were the only two healthy Wizards to not play tonight.
- Tim Frazier had an awesome buzzer beater to end the first quarter:
TIME STOPS FOR TIM FRAZIER. pic.twitter.com/YZepjOidKA— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) October 24, 2017
- We had our first Mahinmi injury scare of the season, but he would return to the game. He’s so important off of the bench for Brooks, especially with Morris’ absence. It’s good to see that he’s okay.
- The Wizards were awesome from the line tonight, going 26-28.
Next up: The Wizards are back in action Wednesday night as they take on Lonzo Ball and the Lakers on national TV at 10:30 p.m. EST.