Nuggets look to avoid letdown vs. Wizards
The Denver Nuggets have a showdown with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, but first they need to handle matters against the visiting Washington Wizards on Sunday night.
Denver (51-24) and Golden State are tied atop the Western Conference and both teams play Sunday. While the Warriors host a Charlotte Hornets team still in playoff contention, the Nuggets play a Wizards unit that was eliminated on Thursday.
The visiting Nuggets bounced back from a loss in Houston to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-105 on Friday night in the second of back-to-backs. The Nuggets have won eight of their last 10.
"Phenomenal win in a tough place to play on the second night (of a back-to-back)," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told the team's website. "Really proud of our guys. This is a big win for us."
Jamal Murray scored 27 points and added nine assists
"I thought this might have been Jamal Murray's best complete game in a Nuggets uniform," Malone said. "I loved how he played tonight. He ran the team, he scored big baskets, and defended at a high level. That's the Jamal Murray we need every night moving forward."
Nikola Jokic added 23 points and 16 rebounds. Paul Millsap (14 points), Will Barton (12) and Mason Plumlee (11) also finished in double-figures for Denver, which shot 56.5 percent from the field.
With the score tied at 69 in the third quarter, Denver went on a 14-2 run and took an 86-75 lead into the fourth quarter. Oklahoma went on a brief run to get within nine but he Nuggets held on.
After seeing their dim playoff hopes extinguished when the Miami Heat won on Thursday night, the Wizards began the task of playing out the string in a 128-124 loss at the Utah Jazz on Friday.
Washington didn't hold back against the Jazz. All-Star guard Bradley Beal started his 159th consecutive game and scored 34 points for his 24th 30-point game of the season.
Bobby Portis added 28 points and 13 rebounds for Washington. Thomas Bryant had 11 points and 12 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season.
"I know we're going to keep competing," coach Scott Brooks told the team's website. "We've got guys that are going to play hard. Brad 1/8Beal 3/8 has led us all year in some tough situations and we've competed."
Washington trailed by 15 on three occasions but responded each time. Portis capped a 13-3 run to tie the game with 4:41 left, and the Wizards tied it twice more before taking a brief 116-114 lead. Utah scored four straight points, and though Washington cut it to 126-124 on a 3-pointer from Jabari Parker with 9.2 seconds left, Utah's Donovan Mitchell iced it with two free throws.
"We haven't got enough wins that we would like but we're right there with a lot of teams and just a couple of plays down the stretch and a lot of our games, but it's about growing and learning and competing and we're going to continue to do that these last five 1/8games 3/8," Brooks said.
The Nuggets won the first meeting of the season against the Wizards, 113-108 on March 21, as five Denver players scored 15 points each and Beal scored 25 for Washington.
The Wizards are 9-30 on the road and the Nuggets are 31-6 at home.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 30, 2019