Wizards-Nuggets Preview

John Wall broke out of a brief shooting slump but couldn’t keep the Washington Wizards from being plagued by another poor second half.

The Denver Nuggets remain stuck in their own offensive rut.

Both teams will try to avoid matching their longest losing streaks this season Sunday night in Denver.

The Wizards (29-15) lost 103-96 to Portland on Saturday, opening a four-game Western Conference trip. Wall scored 25 while going 10 of 17 with nine assists after he had been 15 for 41 in his previous three games.

Washington was outscored 58-41 in the second half, however, after being outscored 54-42 after halftime of Wednesday’s 105-103 overtime loss to Oklahoma City. The Wizards have been outscored in the second half of each of their last nine losses, averaging a minus-12.8 scoring margin over the final 24 minutes of those games. They’ve also been outscored in the second half in 14 of their last 19 overall.

"In the third quarter they really started to make their shots and we didn’t. It started to look a lot like the OKC game," Wall said. "We gave ourselves opportunities, we just didn’t close out possessions."

Washington claimed a 54-43 second-half advantage in a 119-89 home win over Denver on Dec. 5, shooting 52.9 percent for the game. Kris Humphries led six Wizards in double figures with a season-high 20 points.

The Nuggets (18-25) are averaging 94.2 points on 40.9 percent shooting during a five-game losing streak. They were 6 of 21 from 3-point range in Friday’s 100-99 home loss to Boston without Ty Lawson, who was arrested earlier in the day for allegedly driving under the influence. It’s not clear if Lawson, who leads the team with 16.7 points and 9.9 assists per game, will play.

Jameer Nelson had 23 points while making his first start for Denver in Lawson’s place, though he missed the potential winning jumper at the buzzer. He is averaging 15.0 points and shooting 46.3 percent in five games since joining the Nuggets after averaging 6.8 points on 34.3 percent shooting in 29 games for Dallas and Boston.

"I feel like we should have won regardless of all the circumstances surrounding this game, but you can feel better about a loss when you have that effort," coach Brian Shaw said.

The Nuggets, who dropped six straight from Nov. 1-12, are averaging a minus-8.4 second-half margin during their losing streak.

Denver appears to be getting healthier with JaVale McGee expected to return soon after missing 29 of the last 30 games with a strained left leg. He averaged 5.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and shot 58.0 percent in 14 games. Danilo Gallinari returned from a 15-game absence due to a torn meniscus but was limited to four points on 1-of-7 shooting.

The Nuggets, who have lost five of six against East opponents, have won nine of the last 11 matchups with Washington in Denver.

Paul Pierce, who was 3 of 4 from beyond the arc Saturday to become the fourth player with 2,000 3-pointers, is shooting 43.6 percent from deep on the road compared to 34.8 percent at home.