Washington Peeks Through Clouds, Outlasts Denver 92-85 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Washington Peeks Through Clouds, Outlasts Denver 92-85

Updated: December 10, 2016

Courtesy of Monumental Sports

[Image via Monumental Sports]

The dark clouds covering Washington’s professional basketball organization slightly subsided on Thursday night as the Wizards defeated a hobbled Denver Nuggets team, 95-87, in a slop-fest that should be immediately deleted from your DVR. After missing out on two golden opportunities to achieve gigantic road triumphs in Oklahoma City and San Antonio, barely averting catastrophe against Brooklyn, and producing a disgraceful display versus Orlando, any victory has to be assigned credit because the alternative would have been disastrous.

However, the troubling issues of this team still remain, and the win was more indicative of Denver’s faults than Washington finally figuring things out. The Nuggets came in 2-6 over their last 8 games, with those victories against the lowly Suns and 76ers. They were without Kenneth Faried (DNP-CD), Emmanuel Mudiay, and Gary Harris; they missed 25 3-pointers (21.9%) and committed 27 turnovers. Their leading scorer on the season, Wilson Chandler, had just five points, on 2-for-16 shooting. And yet, the Wizards could not put this team away until the final minutes.

Washington struggled early, as Denver shot out to a 17-5 and soon after 24-10 advantage. The Wizards finished the first quarter with seven turnovers and shot 31.6 percent from the field. Markieff Morris continues to be a lost puppy on defense. Jason Smith has no clue how to run a pick-n-roll. Trey Burke focuses more on getting his own shots than actually running the offense. Andrew Nicholson’s move are stuck in Canadian Maple syrup.

Washington did have bight spots, especially late in the third quarter, by locking down on defense, getting out on the break, running several sharp half court sets for open looks, and Bradley Beal smoothly draining 3-pointers. Kelly Oubre provided a spark off the bench with his energy and barely missed out on two highlight dunks. The Wizards most effective lineup was going small with John Wall, Beal, Oubre, Otto Porter, and Gortat.

The fourth quarter was visually abysmal with Washington outscoring Denver, 17-12. In one final possession, the Nuggets got multiple offensives rebounds, but they were unable to make several open 3-point attempts. Denver shot 1-for-14 on 3-pointers in the final period. The Wizards held the Nuggets to four points over the last 10 minutes. Labeling the finish of this game as “ugly” doesn’t feel strong enough.

The fallout of negative pixels from Wall scoring 52 points in a listless home defeat to a bad Magic squad was predictably brutal. The national media went in on Washington, and while I had some quibbles on the arguments, the overall reaction was deserved. TAI wordsmiths Conor Dirks and Sean Fagan provided their own takes on the franchise despair in two must read pieces. Adam Rubin joined me this week on Wiz podcast, The Pixel-and-Roll Show, to analyze the big picture problems. [Spoiler Alert: this is all Ted and Ern’s fault.]

There is something off with this group. Fan attendance has cratered. The lack of environment in the Verizon Center is embarrassing. Many current season ticket holders have told me that they are already not renewing for next season. The goodwill offered from a new coaching staff is gradually fading as the losses pile up along with the dreaded “effort” excuses. The years gearing up to attain treasure of 2016 Summer Free Agency appears to be a colossal failure. Communication from ownership continues to live in its own bubble, sealed off from reality. Online petitions have begun to demand front office accountability. Snarky hashtags are trending in DC.

There were few takeaways from Thursday night to build on, other than at least the Wizards didn’t lose. This franchise is still stuck in a very bad place. Outlasting a rebuilding Nuggets team did not alter the sinking trajectory of the Wizards.


Coach Scott Brooks:

“We we’re disappointed in ourselves last game. All of us. Myself, including our staff. We needed to do a better job. We focused on that yesterday after having back-to-backs and we had a practice yesterday, our film session and some maintenance work and talked about what we needed to do to get better. It’s only one game but we did play better defense and we just have to have that mindset. Tonight’s offensive game wasn’t there for us. We can score. Last game we scored a bunch of points on our home floor. We didn’t have the offensive flow tonight, but we we won the game on the defensive end and that’s what good teams do when you don’t have a good offensive game. You have to be able to defend and make sure that they miss shots and give us a chance to win. That’s what we did tonight.”

Bradley Beal on the bench:

“It was terrific. We just have to continue to instill confidence in [our bench]. I get sick and tired of people talking about them all the time – people doubting them. But we believe in ourselves and all 15 guys. It was great to be able to see them get out there and knock down some shots and play aggressively. It starts with us, the starters. Once we get out to showing how we’re going to play and setting the tone early, it just flows with the rest of the team.”

Markieff Morris:

“It’s a collective group. We’re kind of a relatively young team. So, it’s like Wall is the voice and I’m like the muscle. What he says, I will press it to them. Him and [Bradley] Beal, they’re the leaders of the team, and we just go as they go … We talk about accountability all the time. At the end of the day, this is your job. You’ve gotta come to work just like everybody else. That’s what you’ve gotta do on great teams is hold everybody accountable. Everybody’s gotta do their job.”

Denver coach Mike Malone:

“It was a much better effort — the fact that we came out and played with energy and we competed, which I was very happy to see from the get go. It is tough to beat a team for four quarters. We jumped them, they came back in that second half. The fourth quarter, obviously, fatigue set in. Only 12 points, could not buy a shot. We were 1-for-18 from the 3-point line in the second half. The biggest thing about tonight was our turnovers. Having what I believe was 29 turnovers for 22 points. Nine of those 29 coming in the fourth quarter. It is awfully tough to win a close game on the road, when you are turning it over as much as we did.”

Nuggets Will Barton on the scoreboard malfunctioning and lack of fans:

“In the first home game of the season for us, we had a crazy malfunction. We were winning the game, we were playing good the whole game. I think we had, what a 35-minute, 45-minute delay/ It took us off track and we wound up losing the game. That was weird. A lot of arenas don’t really have many fans sometimes this year. Our games are not that packed, so I’m used to that also. It wasn’t weird to me.”

John Wall:

“I’m always going to take a win over points any day, that’s the most important to me any day.  I’m happy we got the win, and hopefully we can build on it.”


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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.