Nuggets-Wizards Preview

After finally getting their first-round pick on the court, the

Washington Wizards are looking to get back to .500.

Washington, which had won seven of nine following a sluggish

start to the season, will try to get back on track Monday in a home

matchup against the Denver Nuggets.

The Wizards opened with seven losses in their first nine games

before an exact reversal of that stretch evened their record after

last Monday’s 98-80 win over Orlando.

Washington (9-10) slipped in its previous contest, losing

109-105 in overtime on Friday against Eastern Conference-worst

Milwaukee.

The setback did have its bright spot, however, with Otto Porter

Jr. making his Wizards debut after being selected third overall in

June. Porter, who missed the first 18 games because of a hip

injury, played 14 minutes but missed all three of his field goal

attempts. He went scoreless with two rebounds and an assist.

“My first game, first time playing in the NBA, something I’ve

been waiting my whole life for,” Porter said. “It was pretty cool.

I was excited myself. Come out, get a couple minutes in, get my

feet wet a little bit.”

Porter’s presence won’t solve any lingering issue for the

Wizards, who are allowing 100.2 points and 44.1 rebounds per game –

both ranking among the worst in the league.

Washington’s post defense was poor against the Bucks, who had 52

points in the paint.

“The defense was atrocious,” Wizards coach Randy Whitman said.

“We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do.”

John Wall had 30 points and eight assists for Washington, which

needs to step up on the defensive end against an up-tempo Denver

team that is sixth in the league with a 104.0 scoring average. The

Nuggets are also strong on the glass with 46.1 rebounds per

game.

Denver (12-8) improved to 3-2 on its six-game eastern trip with

a 103-92 comeback victory in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Slow starts have been an issue during the trip for the Nuggets,

who surprisingly have trailed after the first quarter in all five

games. Denver is averaging 27.1 points in the opening period this

season – fourth-most in the NBA.

Strong play from their reserves has helped the Nuggets recover

from the early stumbles. Nate Robinson came off the bench and

scored a team-high 20 points against the 76ers, while fellow

reserve Jordan Hamilton chipped in 13.

Both players were key in the fourth quarter, when Denver

outscored Philadelphia 26-15 to pull away. Hamilton hit a trio of

3-pointers in a 67-second span after the Sixers had pulled within

four.

“He’s been doing that for us. He spaces the floor,” Nuggets

coach Brian Shaw said of Hamilton. “We finally got some movement

when our guards started to attack, their defense started to

converge and he found the open windows.”

The Nuggets’ reserves are second in the NBA with 45.3 points per

game, while the Wizards are last in that category with an average

of 19.3.

Washington swept the two-game series between the teams last

season after dropping nine of the previous ten meetings.