The Washington Wizards upset the Denver Nuggets in Denver last night 112-108 to even their five-game road swing record at 1-1.
Denver is one of the toughest places for a visiting team to win and that alone should have been intimidating enough for a team that had lost 15 of its first 16 road games this year. But with wins this year over the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Wizards [now 8-29] can seemingly win anywhere at any time. Also, they can lose anywhere at any time. But this time, last night, they won -- thanks to a big fourth quarter, domination of the glass, great shooting, and a big defensive play in the waning seconds by the backup point guard still working his way back into shape.
The Wiz and Nuggets played a close first half until Denver pulled ahead a bit at the end of the second quarter and took a 50-45 lead into the intermission. Then DC-area native Ty Lawson exploded, hitting 4 3-pointers and pouring in 23 of Denver's 37 points in the third quarter. Washington refused to go away, however, and, led by rookie Bradley Beal and his 23 points, the Wiz scored 35 points of their own in the third, keeping the game close and trailing by only 7 as the fourth quarter began.
That's when the Wizards began their comeback. Washington blasted out of the gate, scoring the first twelve points of the quarter to take a 92-87 advantage, led by Kevin Seraphin, who scored 14 of his 18 points in the final period. John Wall also took over in the fourth, scoring eight of his 14 points and also coming up with the big defensive stop at the end. With the Wizards clinging to a 110-108 lead with time running out, Lawson took an in-bounds pass about 23 feet from the basket and drove to his right, losing Martell Webster in the process. John Wall saw Webster out of position so he left his man and literally leaped over Webster to get high and block Lawson's potentially gamea-tying shot. Wall then recovered the loose ball, was fouled to stop the clock and then calmly sank both free throws for the final score of 112-108.
Wall was fantastic, scoring 14 points on just 9 shots, dishing 12 assists and grabbing four rebounds. He did commit six turnovers, however. Washington's balanced scoring attack, with three starters in double figures and three reserves -- and both the starters and bench scoring 56 points -- was a key factor in the win. Trevor Ariza scored 14 points and grabbed 5 rebounds off the bench, Emaka Okafor and Martell Webster and ten points and 7 boards and 10 points and 5 boards respectively.
Washington shot 51% from the field, 48% on 3-pointers and out-rebounded the Nuggets 45-34.
Both Nene in his homecoming to Denver, the team he played for for 9 years, and Javale McGee, who played his first three years for the Wizards, were ineffective last night. McGee scored 6 points on 2-7 shooting and committed four fouls in 14 minutes off the bench and his -14 court ratio indicates how badly he and Denver's other reserves were outplayed by Washington's bench. Nene looked nervous to start the game and never really settled in, managing only 7 points, 4 rebounds and 3 turnovers in 29 minutes. The two players were traded for each other last year.
Washington plays in Los Angeles next against the 31-9 Clippers, who have won 3 straight and sit atop the Pacific Division.no comments