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Wizards stay unbeaten, take out Nuggets to begin road trip

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Wizards stay unbeaten, take out Nuggets to begin road trip

The Washington Wizards beat the Denver Nuggets 109-104 on Monday night at the Pepsi Center. Here's analysis of what went down.

Jokic bumped Brooks: A strange moment happened in the final minute that helped change the course of this game. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic bumped Wizards head coach Scott Brooks during a timeout, earning a technical foul with :32 seconds left. The Wizards were up just two points, but Bradley Beal hit a free throw and then a layup on the ensuing possession to give the Wizards a five-point lead and essentially seal the win.

Here is the play. It's not something you see very often:

Porter may be taking another leap: Otto Porter (17 points, 10 rebounds, four steals) was a standout in the first two games because of his hot starts and that continued on Monday. Porter came out rolling with 12 points in his first 15 minutes. He made it look easy with his midrange game, consistently knocking down 15 to 20 foot jumpers. 

Porter clearly looks more assertive and confident, showing no hesitation particularly early in games. The Wizards saw John Wall and Bradley Beal quickly get much better after signing their max deals and Porter looks intent on following their lead. If he can achieve consistency in dropping 15+ points per game while doing all the things he already does, the Wizards could reach new heights.

Backup point guard a positive: Yeah, you read that right. For as much trouble as the Wizards have had solving the backup point guard position, all was right on Monday night. Tim Frazier had easily his best game since joining the Wizards after going scoreless in his first two outings. His first made shot as a member of the Wizards was a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter from about 35 feet out.

Frazier lit a spark with 10 points, so did Tomas Satoransky. After not playing in the Wizards' first two games, he checked in late in the second quarter and immediately hit a hook shot and a three. Satoransky is on the outside of the rotation looking in, but he made the most of a brief opportunity on this particular night.

Those two guys helped buoy Wall (19 points, 12 assists) and Beal (20 points, five rebounds). Any time pressure can be taken off of them is a good thing.

Jokic is legitimate: We don't see much of Nuggets center Jokic on the East Coast and he didn't score a single point in his last game before playing the Wizards, but on Monday Jokic showed that he is the real deal. The guy came out swinging with 12 points on 5-for-5 from the field in his first eight minutes. By halftime he had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists. There are so many good, young big men these days that Jokic gets overlooked, but he does just about everything well. Jokic finished with 29 points in 35 minutes.

Smith still out: Jason Smith didn't play in this one as he missed his second straight game with a sprained right shoulder. Considering Markieff Morris (sports hernia surgery) is also out, meaning the Wizards are missing both of their power forwards, this undefeated start is no small feat. The Wizards are 3-0 for the fourth time in team history and the first time since 2005. The other two times they did so were the 1978-79 season and the 1974-75 season. Both of those years they lost in the NBA Finals. Thanks to a Raptors loss on Monday, the Wizards are the only remaining undefeated team in the East.

Up next: The Wizards move on to Los Angeles to play the Lakers at the Staples Center. That means Wall vs. Lonzo Ball. The game tips at 10:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

[RELATED: WOLF SEASON HAS MICHAEL JACKSON CONNECTION]

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Best moments from Wizards' loss to Hornets, including Oubre and Beal's big dunks

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USA Today Sports

Best moments from Wizards' loss to Hornets, including Oubre and Beal's big dunks

Here are the best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 129-124 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night...

1. The Wizards couldn't do much to stop Dwight Howard in this one, but he did have one of his shots blocked. It was by the rim, though.

Watch Howard rise for an alley-oop, only to be rejected by the rim. 

That was about the only thing Howard did wrong. He finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

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2. Bradley Beal didn't have a great shooting night, as he finished 7-for-22 despite dropping 22 points. He had a few nice dunks in the first half including this one:

3. John Wall had a strong game with 31 points and 11 assists on 13-of-26 shooting. This was his best assist, a thread-the-needle dish to Markieff Morris.

4. Here's another dunk from Beal, this one with two hands for good measure:

5. This was the best dunk of the night. Kelly Oubre, Jr. caught the Hornets sleeping with a nice putback slam. 

The Wizards closed their road trip a disappointing 1-2, but at least the game was entertaining.

[RELATED: BEAL'S BIG MILESTONE BY THE NUMBERS]

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Wizards have letdown on defense, fall to Hornets in overtime

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Wizards have letdown on defense, fall to Hornets in overtime

The Washington Wizards lost the Charlotte Hornets 129-124 in overtime on Wednesday night at the Spectrum Center. Here's analysis of what went down...

Frustrating loss: The Wizards will not head into the Thanksgiving holiday a happy bunch. After an impressive road win at the Milwaukee Bucks, they let a winnable game slip away against the Hornets. They were up nine points with 3:32 left in the fourth, yet allowed the Hornets to force overtime and then dominate the extra period.

Defense was the problem for Washington. After holding opponents to 95 points or less in six of their last seven games, the Wizards gave up 129 points to an average offensive team. Yes, 15 of those points came in overtime, but the Wizards won't be happy with their defense after this one. They will probably regret the 53 bench points they gave up more than anything.

Beal, Wall heated up late: Neither John Wall or Bradley Beal had a rhythm in the first half, but both woke up later on for the Wizards. Wall had eight points in the first half, but on 3-for-11 shooting. Beal had seven points, but also on 3-for-11 from the field.

Stars can only be held in check for so long and Wall and Beal broke ultimately broke through. Wall had 11 points in the third quarter and Beal had seven. 

For a while it looked like Wall and Beal had taken the game over, but the Wizards couldn't take advantage despite Wall ending up with 31 points and 11 assists and Beal having 22 points, four rebounds and two steals.

Beal's night was highlighted by a series of dunks in the first half, including this one with two hands:

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Howard was a beast: The Wizards did a good job limiting Dwight Howard this past spring when they faced the Hawks in the playoffs, but they had no such luck on Wednesday in their first meeting with Howard's Hornets. Howard was dominant down low with 26 points and 13 rebounds. The Hornets did a good job feeding him in the post and when he has position there are little options beyond sending him to the free throw line. 

Marcin Gortat (eight points, 11 rebounds) is a good match for Howard on most nights. They know each other well as former teammates with the Orlando Magic. Gortat had a fine game, but Howard was at his best on Wednesday. He was coming off of a 25-point, 20-rebound performance and he kept it going against the Wizards.

Howard also blocked Beal's buzzer-beater at the end of regulation. Beal got the ball with two seconds left and tried driving to his left down the baseline. Howard read the move and swatted the ball out of bounds. Howard then had a big bucket with less than a minute to go. He had a putback on an airballed three that was a backbreaker for the Wizards, who needed a stop.

Meeks and Scott were a plus: The Wizards got a nice boost from their bench from Jodie Meeks (nine points) and Mike Scott (13 points), two guys who have proven this season to be instant offense when they're at their best. Scott came in and hit a three with a pair of midrange jumpers in the first half. Meeks was getting it down in the paint with floaters and layups on nice cuts to the basket. 

Scott hit three threes and is now shooting 44.8 percent for the season. It's only on 29 attempts, but that's not bad at all.

Lamb was a problem: The Wizards had a lot of trouble with Hornets reserve Jeremy Lamb, who has been Charlotte's most improved player so far this season. He was a force off the bench with 24 points in 37 minutes. Lamb has always had a lot of potential as a freak athlete with a sweet jumper. He may be starting to truly put it all together.

The Wizards even tried Kelly Oubre, Jr., one of their best defenders, on him. But Lamb kept getting buckets and added seven rebounds and five assists. 

Up next: The Wizards are off for Thanksgiving and Friday. They pick back up on Saturday with the Portland Trail Blazers in town. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

[RELATED: MARKIEFF MORRIS STANDS UP FOR MEEK MILL]