The Denver Nuggets hoped to get some payback against a Washington Wizards team that beat them just a week ago in the waning moments but it wasn’t meant to be. Despite big performances from Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.; Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook and Denver’s own ineptitude proved to be too much. 10 offensive rebounds given up, 18 turnovers committed and one mind numbingly bad end game sequence later and the Nuggets once again lose to Washington. Wizards take it 112-110.
Offense was few and far between to start the game. The Nuggets couldn’t buy a basket but neither could the Wizards and they combined for four points in the first two minutes. Jokic took over the offense after that, scoring Denver’s first seven points, while Beal got it going for Washington. Denver must have missed 5 layups to open the game but halfway through the first they still held a one point lead. They got a bit sloppy with the ball after that and Washington pulled ahead. Rui Hachimura strung together a couple baskets and the Wizards lead grew. Denver stopped the bleeding but couldn’t close the gap. After one quarter the Nuggets had seven turnovers and trailed by four points.
9 PTS & 5 REB for Nikola in the first! pic.twitter.com/ieZtvgzz6N— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 26, 2021
The offense struggled to open the second quarter just like the first, two minutes into the second the Nuggets found themselves down by nine. It continued to be tough sledding and also a lot of settling on jump shots as the quarter progressed. The Nuggets defense was solid though so the Wizards lead didn’t grow. Eventually they found a little rhythm and started cutting into the lead, but oddly Jokic was also not really involved in the offense. Washington’s offense had completely disappeared though so the lead continued to dwindle. Almost on cue Joker started to get the basketball and started making shots. With the attention on him he hit Facu Campazzo in the corner for an open three which gave Denver back the lead. The teams went back and forth to close out the half with Washington up by two at the end.
The Nuggets refocused on attacking the basket to open the second half but also lost some focus on the defensive end. Denver kept things tight but they just kept shooting themselves in the foot which kept them from recapturing the lead. MPJ heated up midway through the quarter keeping Denver close but then they started to come unraveled a bit which let the Wizards get back up by seven and force Michael Malone into a timeout. Finally the Nuggets started making some threes, led by Jokic naturally, and got back within two but like clockwork they turned it over and gave up a layup on the other end. Denver wasn’t giving up though, they kept pushing back with the three ball and keeping the Wizards within a bucket or two. Jokic found Zeke Nnaji with a beautiful feed in the last minute of the quarter to finally get Denver back in front. After three is was all tied at 88.
Murray was aggressive to start the fourth and got two quick buckets to get Denver in front again. The Nuggets held the lead after that but the Wizards weren’t going away either. Murray, Porter and Jokic carried the load, midway through the quarter they still clung to a two point lead. The lead should have been double digits but the Nuggets just couldn’t stop making little mistakes. Porter grabbing a rebound but not holding it tight and getting stripped by Westbrook was a prime example that got the Wizards back in front. It was evident the game was going to come down to the wire. Washington kept getting second chance opportunities and converting which gave them a four point lead with two minutes to go. The Nuggets got within two with 30 seconds left and got the ball for a final possession. Murray inexplicably stopped a fast break at the three point line, seemed to get lost for a second and threw a late pass to Facu who missed the three at the buzzer. Nuggets lose 112-110.
I wonder if they thought they needed a 3 to tie it...— Eric Spyropoulos (@EricSpyrosNBA) February 26, 2021
Looks like MPJ could have had an easy layup or dunk for the win if he runs to the rim instead of the corner.
But I loved not calling timeout there with a big advantage in transition pic.twitter.com/sXMd2ZPpyU