After losing the first game of this three-game trip to the Portland Trail Blazers and the Wizards hanging on for dear life for a playoff berth, John Wall called the final two must-wins. Saturday, they completed their free fall by losing all three with a 116-100 defeat to the Denver Nuggets.
The Wizards (30-35) led 76-65 on Marcus Thornton's jumper with 2:08 left in the third quarter and then were outscored by the Nuggets -- all second- and third-unit players -- 41-17 in the fourth.
Jusuf Nurkic (17 points), Darrell Arthur (17 points) and D.J. Augustin (17 points) combined to score 25 points in the fourth and the Wizards lost for the fifth time in a row. Will Barton (14 points) and Axel Toupane (eight points) scored the other 16.
Otto Porter (23 points, five steals) scored as much as he did in the previous four games and John Wall (19 points, 11 assists) had his 38th double-double. Other than Garrett Temple (12 points) and J.J. Hickson (10 points) was their only other offense.
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Denver's bench was responsible for 75 points.
- The inability to defend the high pick-and-roll hurt them for the second game in a row as the Wizards couldn't contain Augustin and Nurkic. The big, be it Nene (five points) or Markieff Morris (eight points) in the fourth quarter, was sagging too deep and caught in no man's land, not forcing Denver's hand by taking away the ball-handler and his passing lane or the big diving to the rim. This was almost a carbon copy of what happened on Friday at the Utah Jazz.
- For the second game in a row, Marcin Gortat was rendered ineffective by foul trouble. He had three by 6:34 of the second quarter. Less than two minutes into the third, pressuring Nikola Jokic (no points) at the three-point arc, Gortat picked up his fourth on a cheap reach-in. The ball pressure to make the pass difficult was the right idea but the 6-10 center isn't a three-point shooter. As a result, Gortat played just eight minutes (two points, two rebounds).
- Temple came out of the gates shooting well, but his ball pressure on Emmanuel Mudiay (10 points, four assists) had a lot to do with his lack of productivity. When the Wizards went on their run in the third quarter to go up by double digits, Temple was locked in, fighting through a series of three screens to force him into a missed three-pointer. Temple interrupted dribble handoffs between Kenneth Faried (10 points, five rebounds) and Mudiay as well. Jokic picked up an offensive foul pushing Temple as he fought though his screen.
- Denver had 16 turnovers in the first half alone but still led 52-50 at halftime, an indication of how the Wizards were unable to truly maximize the extra chances.
- Bradley Beal, who joined the team after Tuesday's game in Portland, didn't play on the trip. He received treatment in D.C. after a nasty spill led to a pelvic sprain and has maintained that regimen but there was an anticipation that he could possibly play. Alan Anderson didn't play because he has yet to suit up in back-to-backs since his left ankle surgery.