National Basketball Association
Nuggets-Wizards Preview
National Basketball Association

Nuggets-Wizards Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 12:19 a.m. ET

As the city of Washington continues to thaw out from a horrendous winter storm, the hometown Wizards' offense has remained ice cold.

They'll look to rectify their shooting woes against a team that has been struggling defensively when the Denver Nuggets pay a visit Thursday night.

Coming off a four-day layoff created when the recent blizzard postponed Saturday's home game against Utah, the Wizards were out of sync in defeats to Boston and Toronto on consecutive nights. After committing 20 turnovers in Monday's 116-91 loss to the Celtics, they went 4 of 15 from 3-point range and shot 41.0 percent overall in a 106-89 road defeat to the Raptors.

Washington (20-23) has dropped four of five following a season high-tying four-game win streak to fall to 11th in the Eastern Conference and put its bid for a third consecutive playoff appearance in question.


''We have to figure it out,'' coach Randy Wittman said. ''We have to get back in the gym and work at it.''

Having Bradley Beal unavailable for all but nine minutes of those two losses has compounded matters. The Wizards' second-leading scorer and top outside threat missed the Toronto game after sustaining a concussion and broken nose from an inadvertent forearm from the Celtics' Marcus Smart.

Beal is still in the NBA's concussion protocol and appears unlikely to be cleared for Thursday, a potential problem for a Washington team that's 1-16 when shooting below 45.0 percent and 1-11 when scoring 95 points or less.

On the positive side, Boston and Toronto rate among the league's top defensive teams and have won a combined 13 straight. Denver (17-29) doesn't fall into either category, having lost four of five and allowing 111.5 points per game over its last six.

An 18-1 Boston run overlapping the third and fourth quarters led to the Nuggets' latest defeat, Wednesday's 111-103 loss that opened a three-game trip. Denver also was hurt by 20 turnovers that the Celtics converted into 20 points.

''This is such a mental thing where we have to figure out a way to do it together,'' forward Danilo Gallinari said. ''We can't keep playing like this for good stretches, bad stretches, especially when we're on the road.''

The Nuggets have had an easier time recording points, having eclipsed 100 in a season-high six straight. Gallinari is averaging 23.3 in 13 January games since returning from a sprained ankle and Will Barton followed a 21-point effort in Monday's 119-105 loss to Atlanta with 23 on 8-of-12 shooting against Boston.

Washington ranks last in the NBA in 3-point percentage defense (38.2), with opponents hitting at 45.4 percent over the last four games.

''Our defense is terrible right now, probably the worst in the league,'' John Wall said after Monday's loss. ''Until we start playing defense, we're not going to win games.''

Denver may be coming in thin in the interior, however, as Joffrey Lauvergne missed Tuesday's game with a toe injury and fellow center Nikola Jokic left in the fourth quarter with a bruised right tibia.

The Wizards will be without Kris Humphries (knee) for a 12th straight game. The forward totaled 41 points in two wins over Denver last season, including a 119-89 home rout on Dec. 5, 2014.


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