Washington Wizards v Denver Nuggets
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 26: Thomas Bryant #13 of the Washington Wizards handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets on November 26, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizards fall to Nuggets, 117-104

The Wizards (5-10) struggled to hit shots Tuesday night in Denver, falling 117-104 to the Nuggets (13-3) to begin a four-game road trip. Washington shot just 42.1% from the field, 25.0% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free throw line.

“We’ve been playing great basketball,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “We haven’t won a lot of the games but we’re in every game. No matter who we’re playing, we have to do a better job at taking away the paint. If we give up 70 points (in the paint) every night in this trip, it’s going to be a tough trip for us. The good thing about it is we can bounce back tomorrow, regroup, try to get better in our film session tomorrow morning and come back and play much better tomorrow night.”

Jordan McRae led six Wizards scoring in double figures, totaling a season-high 21 points on 9-16 (.562) from the field and 3-5 (.600) from 3-point range. Bradley Beal scored 14 points, registered six assists and has now dished out five-plus assists in nine of his last 10 games.

After winning three of four and scoring 120-plus points in five consecutive games, the Wizards have been held under 110 points and lost in each of their last two games. The Nuggets, on the other hand, have won six in a row and 10 of their last 11.

“I give (Denver) credit,” Brooks said. “They capitalized on everything. They pounded us inside, they got the important stops, they challenged us, and we didn’t step up for that challenge.”

Nuggets All-NBA center Nikola Jokic scored just eight points, but grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds and dished out five assists. Jokic made his presence known early, grabbing nine rebounds in the first quarter, thanks in part to Thomas Bryant’s early foul trouble. Bryant, who leads the team in rebounds and blocks per game, played just 23 minutes.

Early on, the game’s scoring was unable to match its pace. The Wizards launched 27 shot attempts in the first quarter, but shot just 40.8% from the field, including 1-10 (.100) from 3-point range and didn’t attempt a single free throw. Denver struggled from deep as well, hitting just one of their six first quarter threes, but, unlike the Wizards, managed to turn things around in the second quarter.

In the second quarter, Washington shot just 35% from the field and missed all six of their 3-point attempts. After getting fouled on a 3-pointer, Davis Bertans hit a trio of free throws to cut the Nuggets’ lead to 39-36 with just under eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, but Denver closed on a 25-11 run and took a 64-47 lead into halftime.

A 9-0 Nuggets run capped at 5:32 in the third quarter gave Denver a 77-57 lead. After a Wizards timeout, Beal and Bertans hit threes on consecutive possessions to cut lead to 14, but Washington never managed to whittle the deficit down to single digits.

Next up, the Wizards take on the Suns (8-8) tomorrow night in Phoenix at 9:00 P.M. ET. The Wizards went 1-1 in their only prior road back-to-back this season. Following the matchup with the Suns, the Wizards head to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers (15-2) and Clippers (13-5) on Friday and Sunday night, respectively.

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