Game Report 20: Nuggets 75 Wizards 74

Updated: December 9, 2013
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THE GAME TURNED WHEN… The Wizards led most of the game, including from midway in the second quarter until late in the fourth quarter. At one point, the Wiz led by twelve, but the Nuggets chipped away and the teams battled back and forth until Denver took a one point lead John Wall drove to the basket with 40 seconds left in regulation, but his shot was blocked by Kenneth Faried. Not content to play defense, Faried hustled down the court and took a pass from Nate Robinson for an uncontested dunk with 32.7 seconds remaining. On the next possession, Trevor Ariza drove across the paint and then threw the ball out of bounds, intending the pass for Marcin Gortat. However, Gortat did not move to the bucket at Ariza anticipated and the turnover gave the ball back to the Nuggets with 22 seconds remaining. The Wizards were forced to foul

Rookie Glenn Rice, Jr. stole an in-bounds pass with 22 seconds left and passed to a cutting John Wall, who missed a contested layup under the bucket. Garrett Temple grabbed the loose ball, but Wilson Chandler swatted his shot away and out of bounds. Washington got possession and called timeout with 12 seconds left, trailing 75-74.  The Wizards got the ball to Wall and he drove to the baseline, passing under the basket to Ariza for the open jumper. Ariza missed it and Kenneth Faried, a 61% free throw shooter, went to the line. Faried missed both foul shots, giving the Wizards one more chance with 4.1 seconds to play in regulation.

THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN… John Wall took an in-bound pass from about 30 feet from the basket with 4.1 seconds left in regulation, with the Wizards trailing 75-74. Wall drove toward the elbow and pulled up for a shot. However, the ball slipped out of his hands and was recovered by the Nuggets to end the game. It looked like a Nuggets player, maybe Randy Foye, reached in toward the ball, but on replay it appeared as if Wall just let the ball slip out of his hands as he rose to shoot.

THE GOOD… The Wizards played good defense, holding the Nuggets to 41% shooting from the field, 33% from long range. The Wiz also forced 20 Denver turnovers, including 10 steals — three apiece from Wall and Rice and two apiece from Ariza and Jan Vesely.

Washington out-scored the Nuggets 44-34 in the paint.

THE BAD… The Wiz couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, hitting only 36% of their shots from the field and 21% from behind the arc. The Wiz couldn’t even hit foul shots, making only 5 of 9 from the stripe. And, as usual, the bench was awful, getting out-scored 34-5 and out-rebounded 22-11.

Washington also had three chances to win the game in the final moments and failed each time. They let another lead slip away, this time at home, and struggled to execute basic plays near the end of the game. There simply wasn’t anyone who could be trusted to make a shot.

Washington could only manage 12 points on the fast break, one fewer than the Nuggets. The Wiz need to win the fast break battle almost every night.

THE UGLY… 36% shooting. No need to elaborate.

THE STUDS… John Wall, but barely. Wall had 20 points on 8-20 shooting, to go with 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 turnovers. However, Wall really didn’t do anything right in the final moments of the game, missing a tough layup, getting a shot blocked and turning the ball over on the final play.

Trevor Booker got the start in place of Nene tonight and he held his own, scoring 12 points on 5-11 shooting, grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds and blocking two shots.

THE DUDS… Trevor Ariza missed 13 of 19 shots, including 7 of 9 three-pointers. Ariza has been red-hot lately, but that came to an end tonight.

Marcin Gortat started very hot, but finished cold, hitting only 8 of 17 shots for 16 points. Remarkably, the pivot man didn’t take a single free throw in 38 minutes of play.

THE MISSING IN ACTION… Nene Hilario and Martell Webster were both injured and missed the game.

WHAT IT ALL MEANS… It’s difficult to know how much to take from this game. We already knew the Wizards offense struggles badly without Nene in the lineup and we got further proof of that tonight. It’s not just the shots Nene makes. He’s a first-rate passer out of the low and high posts and the attention defenses pay to him opens up the rest of the floor. They also missed Webster perimeter shooting — either he or Ariza or both are generally hot in every game. Without Webster, the Wiz needed Ariza to be a great shooter tonight and, instead, he was a bad shooter. The loss of three starters — let’s not forget Bradley Beal — was just too much for Washington’s offense to overcome. They can still play defense with Wall, Booker, Gortat and, especially, Ariza, but they just can’t hit enough shots.