Protecting paint key for Nuggets in rematch with Wizards

Washington took advantage of interior in fourth quarter of Jan. 18 victory in Denver
by Aaron Lopez

The paint is where the Denver Nuggets like to inflict punishment.

On Jan. 18 against the Washington Wizards, it was a late-game source of pain.

Washington’s final four baskets came inside the paint, and the Wizards also had two critical offensive rebounds in a 112-108 victory over Denver at Pepsi Center.

“They beat us up inside,” Nuggets coach George Karl said.

Denver leads the NBA in paint points (56.5 per game), but Karl also wants his team to do a better job protecting the rim. In advance of tonight’s rematch against the Wizards, Karl emphasized interior defense during practice Wednesday and Thursday.

“I think they’ll remember some of the criticisms of that game, Karl said.

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson certainly hasn’t forgotten. Lawson scored 23 of his 29 points in the third quarter of that game but it wasn’t enough as Washington handed Denver its third home loss of the season.

“We definitely owe them one,” Lawson said. “We remember how they beat us.”

The Nuggets (34-21) have won 10 of 13 games since the Washington game, and Lawson has been one of the driving forces behind the surge. He is averaging 20.4 points and 7.5 assists while shooting .517 from the field in the past 17 games.

Teammate Danilo Gallinari also has been productive, averaging 19.9 points on .464 shooting in his past 19 games.

“Your most talented players give you a foundation for other people to build on,” Karl said. “Ty and Gallo are understanding that consistency is more important than flamboyance. We don’t need great games of out of them, we just need (darn) good games out of them. I think that’s what we’re getting.”


WHEN: 5 p.m. MT
WHERE: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TV; RADIO: Altitude; 104.3 FM, AM-950


F Danilo Gallinari
F Kenneth Faried
C Kosta Koufos
G Andre Iguodala
G Ty Lawson

F Martell Webster
F Nene
C Emeka Okafor
G Garrett Temple
G John Wall

No injuries to report.
WASHINGTON: ; Cartier Martin (knee) is questionable.

The Nuggets have fared extremely well overall against the Wizards in recent years, having gone 15-4 in the last 19 meetings since the end of the 2002-03 season … The Nuggets have played well in Washington in recent years, having won seven of the last nine meetings with the Wizards at the Verizon Center – with the average margin of victory being 14.5 points in those seven wins … The Nuggets have won eight of the last 10 against Washington in Denver … The Nuggets swept the season series in 2010-11 and 2011-12, which marked the fifth and sixth time in the last 10 years that the Nuggets swept the Wizards.