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
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
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
“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
Washington swept the two-game series between the teams last
season after dropping nine of the previous ten meetings.