The Washington Wizards defeated the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night 112-110, and finished the season series against the Nuggets 2-0. Bradley Beal turned in another solid offensive performance, scoring 33 points on an efficient 10-19 shooting. He also went 11-11 from the free throw line. Russell Westbrook had another triple double with 16 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. He has nine triple doubles as a Wizards, and is now six triple doubles away from tying the franchise record for triple doubles of 15 held by Darrel Walker. Darrell Walker played 283 games as a Wizard to hold this record, Westbrook has played 21 as a Wizard.
Rui Hachimura continued to be a starter, and he had a solid game. He posted 20 points on 9/16 shooting and had the highest plus-minus of any player in the starting lineup at +6. He is one of several role players that will need to step up on both ends of the floor for the Wizards to be able to make a playoff push.
For the Nuggets, Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. combined for 76 of their 110 points as a team. Other than Monte Morris’ 12 points on 2-8 shooting, no other Nuggets broke the double digit threshold.
The Wizards may have seen their five-game win streak ended in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this week, but they obviously did not let it knock them out of sync, and continued to play strong basketball against a Nuggets team that went to the Western conference finals last season. A major aspect of their turn around has been their newfound ability to win close games, something the team struggled with mightily earlier in the season. Going forward, barring any significant leaps on the defensive end, efficient scoring and timely shot-making will be the major keys to continuing to climb the standings and challenge for a playoff spot.
Looking forward on the schedule, the Wizards play the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies twice and the Los Angeles Clippers over their next five games. At 12-18, they are just 3 games out of the eighth playoff spot, and could potentially overtake it if they can win some games against their weaker matchups such as the floundering Celtics and league-worst Timberwolves.
Head coach Scott Brooks has the team playing inspired basketball, and it is a joy to see after a miserable start to the season. Hopefully, the team can continue their positive momentum and shake up the Eastern conference playoff race in the coming weeks.