The Denver Nuggets faced the easiest opponent remaining on their schedule tonight in the Washington Wizards but found themselves in anything but an easy game. Jamal Murray sprained his ankle and left in the second half. Nikola Jokic got ejected for arguing calls at a pivotal moment in the game and Bradley Beal and Jabari Parker led the charge for the Wizards. Denver got up early but couldn’t maintain and the Wizards ultimately proved to be too much. The Nuggets drop and ugly one.
Jokic started out on a tear for Denver, imposing his will inside and scoring their first ten points on five of five shooting. The Wizards were able to keep pace with the three point basket though and the game was tight early on. The Nuggets pushed the pace behind Jokic and Will Barton and got three straight fast break baskets to give themselves some breathing room. The Nuggets would have blown the doors off Washington early on if it wasn’t for their abysmal three point shooting. They also were taking their licks. Jamal Murray tweaked his ankle and Jokic took a Bobby Portis forearm to the nose which left him bloodied. Still, Denver dominated the paint throughout the first quarter and worked their way to an eleven point lead.
Murray checked back in to start the second quarter and quickly buried a three which was a great sign. Jokic also returned from the locker room to the bench. Jabari Parker was the lone offense for the Wizards while Beal was on the bench but it was only enough to keep the lead from growing exponentially. The Nuggets started to stall midway through the quarter. They had trouble creating good looks and the Wizards attacked the basket. by the time the quarter was half over Washington had brought it all the way back within five. Luckily, Jokic checked back in, gauze stuffed in his nose and all. Washington was on a 14-1 run before Joker finally got an easy bucket in the lane. With Nikola back in the ball started moving again while he initiated the offense and Denver pushed back. Parker remained a thorn in their side but a strong close to the half got Denver back ahead by nine at the end of the half.
The Nuggets were sluggish to start out the second half. They were settling for jump shots while letting Washington get to the basket. The Wizards cut into the lead while Denver continued to struggle from the three point line. However their defense tightened up which kept them up by about a half dozen. Things started to get chippy between Jokic and Portis, the refs went to a heavy whistle to get things back under control which slowed the game to a crawl. The Nuggets didn’t benefit despite getting Washington in the bonus. They continued to settle for three pointers even though they were ice cold from downtown. Troy Brown Jr got a steal and an easy flush to bring Denver’s lead to under one with under two minutes to go and forced coach Michael Malone to take a timeout. Denver gave up a dunk to Parker and one to Thomas Bryant in the final minute and the Wizards closed the quarter up by three.
Denver didn’t exactly start off the fourth hot from the floor but they got some energy from the bench and a couple threes to swing the game back into their favor. Washington called a timeout which cooled the Nuggets off but the Wizards were likewise struggling from the field. Both teams were not executing well which kept it a one possession game. The Nuggets just could not buy a basket and were starting to come unraveled a bit. Washington went on a 7-0 run to force a timeout. The Nuggets tightened up on D and finally someone started going inside with Millsap working it down low. With four and a half minutes to go Denver was able to tie it back up. At the 3:47 mark Jokic made a basket down low and thought he was fouled, he argued and got T’d up. You could very clearly see the ref ask Joker if he wanted another one and it didn’t stop Nikola. Sure enough, he got his second technical and was tossed. Just an absolute momentum killer and terrible decision by Nikola. The Wizards got a four point lead on the back of his ejection and held it going into the final minutes. The Nuggets were clearly discombobulated on offense without Murray and Jokic and they were desperately trying to find just enough scoring to get a win. Millsap was doing his best but missed two free throws and three putbacks inside about five seconds with about 50 seconds to go. Washington didn’t stretch out the lead but the Nuggets were unable to get another basket. The Nuggets score just 28 points in the second half and the Wizards secure the win 95-90.