The Washington Wizards began their west coast tour with a 109-104 win in Denver versus the Nuggets last night. Bradley Beal led the Wizards in scoring with 20 points, followed by 19 points from John Wall and 17 points from Otto Porter.
The game went wire to wire with no team at any point taking a large lead. The Wizards started slow compared to their previous games and didn’t play their tempo in the first half. Nuggets big man, Nikola Jokic, who finished the game with a game-high 29 points, started the game on fire. The Nuggets grabbed more rebounds in the first half and started the second quarter with an 11-0 run. Denver got out in transition after Wizards’ missed field goals and took advantage of Washington’s achilles heel, their bench. But once the starters came back into the game, they closed the gap, and a last second buzzer-beater layup by Beal gave the Wizards a 56-55 lead at halftime.
The Wizards came out of halftime in full throttle as they expanded their lead and never gave it back to the Nuggets. Despite a poor shooting performance, the Washington defense forced 20 Denver turnovers which kept their lead intact. John Wall didn’t shoot particulary well this game, but got his points from driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter have continued to grow as offensive threats, as no team can ever leave them open anywhere on the court.
The Wizards came close again to blowing their lead late in the game but were resilient enough to finish the game and get the win. Kelly Oubre started for the injured Markieff Morris and he played great defense on Denver’s All-Star forward Paul Millsap, who was known for always giving the Wizards fits when he played for Atlanta.
But the play of the game that sealed the Wizards win was a foul drawn by Scott Brooks…yes, I typed that correctly. Wizards’ coach Scott Brooks got bumped into by Jokic during a timeout and drew a technical foul. This resulted in a Beal free throw that put the Wizards up and gave them the ball.
The Wizards are now 3-0, and after Toronto’s loss in San Antonio, the Wizards stand alone as the only undefeated team left in the Eastern Conference. Washington continues its west coast trip with a matchup with Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night on ESPN at 10:30pm.