Trying to keep a five game winning streak going, the Denver Nuggets didn’t exactly get off to a stellar start. The Washington Wizards were scoring and getting lots of open looks that allowed them to get out to a 6-4 lead. Off of an out of bounds play, Paul Millsap threw down an easy bucket to tie the game up. Early on in the game, we continued to see the active hands of Jamal Murray that forced a steal along with getting a tipped ball away from Isaiah Thomas.

Denver eventually took the lead off of a Millsap free throw before they allowed an easy cut to Troy Brown Jr. for a layup on the other end. After Bradley Beal and Thomas got easy shots to fall close to the rim, Michael Malone was forced to call his first timeout down 12-11 about four minutes into the first quarter. Out of the timeout, not much was changing, although Will Barton did get a bucket to put the team up 13-12.

Nikola Jokic started the game very passively on the offensive end, but he was doing his work on the backboard with six rebounds halfway through the first quarter. After a long rebound wen to Gary Harris, he was able to outlet to a streaking Barton to put the team up 19-15 with four minutes to go before the Wizards were forced to call a timeout. The Nuggets gave up an easy bucket to Beal, and we also saw Jokic pass up an open 3-point shot, which isn’t something we had seen from him early in the year.

With 2:43 to go in the first, Malone subbed out Jamal Murray and Harris to feature a lineup with Jokic and Barton as the lone starters. Jokic continued to feast against the smaller competition with eight rebounds in 10 minutes of play, but the offense was still struggling with them being down two points. The second unit came in, and they instantly put up two points on a tough floater by Monte Morris, and Jerami Grant was a bounce away from drawing an and-one bucket to try and stretch the lead.

The Wizards continued to get what they wanted at the bucket to bring themselves within one before Juan Hernangomez nailed a 3-point shot to stretch the lead out to four. With 30 seconds to go, Malik Beasley took a wild drive to the basket that resulted in a turnover. On their final possession with the clock winding down, Morris and Mason Plumlee ran a pick and roll to get Plumlee rolling towards the rim where he was fouled. The first quarter ended with the Nuggets leading 25-23 at home.

The Nuggets’ cold shooting continued, and they couldn’t keep the Wizards from getting to the basket before they went down 27-25. Morris went back to his floater on the next possession to tie the game. With under two minutes gone in the second quarter, the Nuggets had already registered six turnovers. With a flashy pass from Beasley, he found an easy dunk for Plumlee, and Beasley followed it up with a big 3-point shot on the next possession.

The Nuggets’ bench was able to maintain the lead for the the starters, as they were consistently matching the Wizards’ bench. Jerami Grant hit a big 3-point shot to give the Nuggets a six-point lead before they allowed an easy drive on the other that dropped it to four. Out of a Nuggets’ timeout, Grant got up for a big dunk off of a slick feed from Plumlee. The lead hovered around three points before both teams allowed their starters to start to trickle back onto the floor.

With their starters back in the game, the Nuggets got their offense rolling again, and they were able stretch the lead up to nine before Wizards’ coach Scott Brooks called a timeout down 45-36. Grant was the lone player in with the starters with his 12 points leading the team, and Malone wanted to lean on the hot hand. Jokic got his 10th rebound, and he got a filthy pass to Grant that got him up to 16 points on the night with the lead getting up to 11. On the next possession, Murray got all the way to the rim and force another timeout from Brooks up 13.

Grant was subbed out during the timeout to bring the entire starting group in. The offense couldn’t get shots to fall before Thomas Bryant got a fast-break dunk to cut it to 11. Bryant, off a dumb Jokic foul, got a pair of free throws, but Jokic followed it up on the other end with an easy bucket at the basket. Murray and rookie Rui Hachimura then traded baskets before Thomas drew a foul on Jokic on the other end.

Jokic missed another shot when he thought he was fouled, but Murray saved it with a great verticality effort against Thomas before forcing a jump ball. Off a Murray miss, Barton caught the long rebound before draining it from 3-point range and put the lead back up to 13. Murray picked the pocket of Thomas, and he threw down a dunk to put the team up by 15. With about a minute left in the first half, the Nuggets were out to a 62-47 lead.

The Nuggets took advantage of another Murray steal, third of the night, where he got a big dunk to go up by 17. The Nuggets ended the first half 64-47, and they were getting scoring contributions from all over the place with three different players in double figures, while their defense had held Beal to just four points through two quarters.

Coming out of the break, neither of the offenses were getting anything rolling. Beal, who was quiet in the first half, got to the basket and scored, but he couldn’t convert the 3-point lead to cut the deficit down even more. The Nuggets offense continued to be lacking in intensity with two turnovers on their first three possessions while the Wizards got the deficit down to 12. Murray helped settle the offense on the next possession by making his sixth shot on the night.

Barton followed it up on the next time down to get back up to 16 with a tough drive to the bucket. Following free throws by Brown, the lead was just 14 for Denver, and it was then cut to 11 off of a Hachimura 3-point shot that forced a timeout out of Malone. Out of the break, the Nuggets ran a great, controlled set that got Millsap an easy dunk at the bucket. Off of Jokic’s 16th rebound on the night, Murray went to the basket where he took a hard foul from Beal, but he was able to make both free throws to get back up by 15.

Off of another Hachimura miss, Millsap got out in transition to get an easy layup, and he played through the foul from Rui where he converted the 3-point play. The team stretched their lead up to 18 which was their largest on the night to that point. Thomas continued to show some struggles with a string of turnovers and missed shots. Following one of those turnovers, Jokic got an extremely easy layup to put the team up 20 and force a Washington timeout.

The Nuggets allowed a pair of quick 3-point shots that allowed the Wizards to cut the lead down to 14. Grant then came back into the game, but Murray wanted the points lead to himself with a ferocious dunk to go up to 18. Harris added a floater, and Jokic got his 19th board on the night with three and a half to go in the third. Gary, arguing a non-foul call, got a technical foul, but Beal missed the shot. As they say, ball don’t lie.

Off of a bad Murray turnover, Beal got an easy dunk, but Harris answered him back with his first 3-point make on the night. After getting his 20th rebound, Jokic committed a lazy foul at half court that saw he and Murray go out during the dead ball. With a great hustle play, Plumlee was able to save an easy dunk by the Wizards to keep the lead at 15. We saw a solid few minutes of sloppy offense by both teams with no points going on the board for about two mintes. Off of a Beal turnover, Harris got out in transition where he was fouled by Ish Smith, and he went to the line where he went 2-of-2.

With under a minute remaining, the Nuggets forced another Beal turnover, but they weren’t able to get any points off of it. With the final possession of the third quarter, Beal brought the ball up in isolation with Harris, and they weren’t able to get the shot off. Denver finished the quarter up 17 with a score of 86-69.

The start of the fourth quarter saw some struggles by each offense, but Grant got the scoring rolling with an athletic dunk from below the basket. Plumlee got a steal, and Morris was able to put his man in a circle to get the lead back to 19. After a Moritz Wagner make, Beasley walked in for a free-throw line jumper. Washington got a wide-open 3-point make to cut the lead to 16.

Plumlee was able to nail a contested hook shot where he drew a foul on Wagner, and he was able to make the foul shot. On the other end, we saw Beasley get a steal before drawing a transition foul. Grant got up to a season-high of 20 points on the night that got the team up by 18 as the bench continued to tread water against the Washington reserves. Out of a Washington timeout, Davis Bertans drained a deep 3-pointer to cut the Denver lead to just 15.

Plumlee followed that up by finishing the alley-oop from Morris to put them back up by 17. With under six minutes to go, the MPJ chants had begun around the arena with the Nuggets’ lead hovering at 19. It appeared that the starters, outside of Barton, were done for the night, but the Wizards weren’t done after they nailed another three to cut it to 16. They followed that up with a bucket to bring it to 14 and force another Malone timeout.

With the Wizards closing in, Barton drained a 3-point bucket while drawing a foul to give him the rare 4-point play. Denver was back up by 18 with less than five minutes left. Morris, off of a rebound, went back at the rack to stretch the lead to 18 before Jordan McRae got his 19th point on the night to bring the lead down to 15. Isaac Bonga was able to draw a goaltending call from Grant that got the lead down to 13 for the Nuggets. To fix that error though, Plumlee got a nifty spin move at the bucket for a layup.

Washington kept the onslaught going, but Plumlee answered to put the lead back to 15. This forced another timeout from Brooks and the Wizards with less than two minutes left. During the timeout, Beasley drew a technical, but the Wizards failed to make the free throw. McRae cut back into the lead with his 21st point on the night, and Plumlee slammed the door again with another alley-oop dunk.

With less than a minute to go, the offense had finally stopped as both sides decided to dribble the clock out. Malone left the floor happy with a win, but he looked visibly annoyed with the lack of a complete game from the team. Their defense shut the Wizards down by holding them 15 points below their season average, but they will have to work on their defense at the rim in a major way moving forward to contend with the best teams.

Stat Leaders of the Night

Points: Jerami Grant – 20

Rebounds: Nikola Jokic – 20

Assists: Monte Morris & Nikola Jokic – 5

Player of the Night: Jerami Grant 20 points, four rebounds, one assist, two steals