Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Nikola Jokic turned in a video game-like stat line with 8 points, 5 assists, and 20 rebounds (in just three quarters) as the Denver Nuggets comfortably took care of the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night, winning 117-104.
Jordan McRae scored a team-high 21 points (17 in the fourth quarter) for Washington while Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans scored 14 each, but the Nuggets took control with a 39-24 second quarter and kept Washington at bay the rest of the night.
Washington was able to hold Denver to just 25 points in the first quarter as they were somewhat engaged defensively and the Nuggets missed some open looks. But the script would flip in the second quarter as Washington’s defense returned to season-long form.
A 12-2 run midway through the second period to go along with the Wizards inability to hit a shot from three-point range enabled Denver to stretch the lead to double figures. They took a 64-47 lead into halftime — and never looked back as they coasted to an easy victory.
Washington frigid from three-point range
The Wizards entered the game as the sixth best three-point shooting team in the league, knocking down 38 percent from their shots from deep.
But the Wizards started 1-16 (6 percent) from three-point range with Mo Wagner having the lone make. Beal missed all four of his first half attempts including a few shots from way downtown to bail the Denver defense out.
The Wizards’ inability to knock down three-point shots made it nearly impossible for Washington to stick around in this one as this game started to get out of hand in the second quarter.
Washington shot the ball better in the second half (9-24 for 38%), but it didn’t matter as most of these came in garbage time with Denver well in control of the game.
A ‘growing pains’ kind of game
No one expected the Wizards to win this one. But with their solid play over the recent three-game home stand, some thought Washington might put forth a better effort. Let’s not kid ourselves here — Denver is one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and is currently sitting in the upper echelon of the Western Conference.
The Wizards were overmatched tonight and were never really in this one. On nights like these, it’s important to take a step back and remember the goals for this season — give the younger players minutes and extra reps even if it is in garbage time, because there will be many more nights like this to come.