All five Wizards starters scored in double figures led by John Wall with 26 and Bradley Beal with 23 as the Wizards beat a short-handed Nuggets squad, 123-113 on Wednesday night. Otto Porter was able to knock off the rust, scoring 22 points and Marcin Gortat returned to his old ways, notching a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds to help the Wizards improve to 2-0 on their road trip.
The Wizards sure didn’t look like a team on the second half of a back-to-back from the start of this one. Washington started the game 6-10 from the field as Wall and Beal combined for 18 points in the first period. Wall got out in transition and had many opportunities in the first quarter thanks to long rebounds off Denver’s missed threes. Wall scored layups on back-to-back fast break possessions including this one as he put just the right English on the ball to finish with the foul.
Wall finished the quarter with 10 points and four assists as the Wizards led, 35-28 after one.
There was a lot to like from Washington in the second quarter, particularly from the recently, very effective bench. The reserves came in and combined for 18 points in the first half behind eight points from Bojan Bogdanovic and four assists from Brandon Jennings. The reserves did their job in maintaining the lead for when the starters checked back in.
When Wall and Beal were re-inserted, the Wizards kicked it up a gear. Washington went on a 12-2 run sparked by two three-pointers from Bradley Beal and some short shots in the lane from Gortat as the Wizards were able to go into halftime up 67-50.
The Wizards were coasting and it looked like Washington would cruise as they led by 24 at one point in the third quarter. But Denver had other plans. The Nuggets shot a red-hot 78 percent in the third quarter as they trimmed the Washington lead in half entering the fourth quarter.
Once again, the Wizards were able to stretch the lead out to 14 but the pesky Nuggets wouldn’t go away. Things got more complicated after Markieff Morris was ejected for a Flagrant 2 foul on Mason Plumlee. The teams traded baskets for most of the fourth quarter and the Nuggets were able to cut the lead to single digits with just under a minute to play. But on the next possession with the shot clock winding down, Gortat found Bogdanovic who swung it around the horn for a wide open Porter who’d knock down the dagger three to put the game out of reach.
Gortat breaks out of his slump
After struggling over the past couple of games, Gortat turned his best performance since the All-Star break. Gortat got back to his double-double ways with 11 points and 15 rebounds and nearly accomplished that feat by halftime (eight points, 11 rebounds).
It looked like the game plan was to feed Gortat early and often on the block to try and get the big man going as the Nuggets were short-handed in the frontcourt with Nikola Jokic missing this one. Gortat also chipped in with three offensive rebounds that resulted in second chance points for the Wizards.
Otto Porter re-emerges
Like Gortat, Porter has also been struggling a bit since the All-Star break. Porter was able to break out of his funk with 22 points on 10-15 shooting to go along with four steals. Porter hasn’t been taking threes at a rate we saw prior to the All-Star break but tonight, did most of his damage around the rim. Otto had two key buckets late in the game, a long two and a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down as Denver was making a last effort run.
Jennings has his best game as a Wizard
After his early exit from last night’s game, a well rested Jennings turned in his best performance as a Wizard with four points, six assists, and two steals in just over 17 minutes of play. Like Wall, Jennings was looking to get out in transition to set his teammates up. Jennings’ highlight of the night was capped off when he went behind the back to Mahinmi for an easy finish at the rim.