Wall, Beal team up for 53, Wizards beat Nuggets 123-113
DENVER — The Washington Wizards built a big enough lead to withstand the Denver Nuggets’ late comeback bid.
John Wall would prefer not giving opposing teams the chance.
Wall scored 30 points, Bradley Beal had 23 and Washington built a 24-point lead and held on to beat the short-handed Nuggets 123-113 on Wednesday night.
“When we find a way to get up 20-something points, the defense started to get like we didn’t play with the sense of urgency we played with to get that lead,” Wall said. “We’ve got to figure that out and do a better job of it because playing good teams in the playoffs, you don’t want to give them any life. We gave them a little bit of life, but the second unit did a good job at the beginning of the fourth and they held the lead.”
Otto Porter Jr. added 22 points for the Wizards, who have won nine of their last 12 on the road, including their first back-to-back set on the road this season. Washington edged Phoenix 131-127 on Tuesday.
“It was imperative that we set the tone, set the pace of the game and I think we did a good job doing that,” Beal said. “We just had some slippage on defense that almost cost us, but we did a good job of showing maturity and poise.”
The Nuggets were without three of their starters. Nikola Jokic and Danilo Gallinari were both out because of illness, and Kenneth Faried was sidelined because of a back injury.
Gary Harris had 26 points for the Nuggets. Wilson Chandler added 21 and Mason Plumlee chipped in 19.
“We’ve been down people all year and we’ve beaten teams short-handed, so that’s not an excuse at all,” Harris said. “It definitely hurt not having them but we also have to go out there and compete and try to get a win.”
Denver was down by 24 points before closing the third quarter on a 16-5 run, pulling to 97-85 going into the final period.
A dunk by Plumlee cut Denver’s deficit to 10 points, but Washington put together a 9-2 burst capped by a 3-pointer by Wall to rebuild the lead to 106-89. The Wizards scored enough to fend off the Nuggets, helped immensely by Porter’s 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining after Denver had closed within eight points.
“I loved the fact that being down we didn’t just roll over,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We had a great comeback, but we can’t put ourselves in a hole like that.”
Denver hung close early on but hit a lull as the Wizards led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter before taking a 67-50 lead at halftime. Beal and Wall combined to score 28 points in the first two quarters.
After Chandler hit a jumper, Denver closed to 45-41 midway through the second quarter. Washington answered with an 18-3 burst that included 3-pointers by Beal and Wall.
Wizards: Completed a sweep of the two-game season series with Denver after being swept by the Nuggets last season. … Washington improved to 17-7 when all five starters score in double figures. Wall also had 10 assists. … Markieff Morris was ejected with 2:08 left to play after a flagrant foul 2 was called against him for a collision in which Plumlee took a hit in the groin area.
Nuggets: With Jokic, Gallinari and Faried all out, Denver fielded its 27th different starting lineup, most in the league this season. … Faried missed his sixth consecutive game due to his low back injury. … Gallinari was out because of a bout with vertigo. .. Jokic missed a second consecutive game because of illness.
Wizards: Continue their five-game road trip on Friday night, when they play the Sacramento Kings.
Nuggets: Wrap up a four-game homestand by hosting the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
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