Heading home happy: Wizards caps off terrific road-trip with thrilling win over Denver

Washington is back in the win column. A four-game road trip featuring some of the toughest teams in the NBA ended up with three important victories for Washington. Just eight days after Washington defeated Denver at home, Washington came into Pepsi Center to take care of business once again…

Washington came out strong and had one of their best first quarters of play this season. Washington controlled the tempo, and Beal had 13 points early to push Washington ahead early. Rui Hachimura also came out firing and scored a quick eight points in the first. Washington was riding a cold start from Denver who started off the game 3/12 from three. Washington took advantage but couldn’t fully put the Nuggets away.

The Wizards bench has been a key to their recent success. However, Washington was missing a key player in Davis Bertans tonight. Washington needed one of the reserves to step up big time tonight. They got their guy tonight in Raul Neto. Neto played a significant role early in the game creating steals and setting up scores deflecting passes. Neto even made a terrific hustle play saving a ball all the way down the court and feeding Troy Brown for a lay in. Neto also knocked down multiple three pointers and drove to the basket drawing contact. Neto finished with 15 points, 5 steals, and 4 assists.

Even with Neto’s spark, Denver still went on a devastating run during the second quarter. Jokic and Jamal Murray began to take over which led to a 19-4 Nuggets run that gave them the lead with time winding down in the half. Garrison Matthews knocked down a three with just seconds to go giving the Wizards a 56-54 edge going into halftime. Washington played well defensively the first half, however the Nuggets are hard to contain for an entire game.

In the third, Washington and Denver started to trade buckets back and forth as both teams started to pick up the pace offensively. Murray began to get hot and he showed no mercy on the Wizard defense. Murray was ⅚ from three at this point and was making seemingly anything he shot. Murray played a major role in the Nuggets runs tonight. Murray finished with 34 points on 6/11 from three. Denver, who started 3/12 from three suddenly heated up in the second half. Denver knocked down 7 threes in the third and gained a slight lead. Westbrook and Hachimura started to heat up, keeping it within a two-possession game. Westbrook layed it in with seconds left to tie the game at 88 heading to the fourth.

The fourth quarter started off fast when Murray continued to torch the Wizards from deep. Denver held a small lead, but they could never put the game out of reach. The Nuggets could only hold their breath as the league’s leading scorer was starting to get hot in the final quarter. Beal scored on three straight possessions and gave Washington the lead. Westbrook also picked up the slack and was doing a terrific job facilitating and setting up the Wizard’s scorers. Westbrook notched his ninth triple-double of the season finishing with 16, 10, and 10.

As the game entered crunch time, the game never became more than a one possession game. Washington would get a bucket, Denver would answer right back every time. Thankfully, Murray was starting to cool down from beyond the arc. Washington gained a slight edge when Denver was called for a defensive three second violation. Beal knocked down the free throw, Westbrook converted a tough layup to put the Wizards up three with under 3 minutes to go. 

The final two minutes were absolutely hectic as the Wizards were clinging on to a tiny lead. Westbrook threw a costly turnover with a two point lead. Fortunately, Murray missed from three and Washington had the ball up 2 with 30 seconds left. Denver chose to play straight up and hope for a stop. With the shot clock winding down, Neto drove and just missed a runner in the lane. The rebound bounced out and Murray scooped it up with 5 seconds to go. The Nuggets ran the floor quick as time ran down. Murray swung the ball to a wide open Facundo Campazzo who stood beyond the line. Campazzo’s shot was off the mark and the Wizards came on to the court in celebration of an emphatic 112-110 victory.

Beal looked up and smiled as the Wizards celebrated their 6th win in 7 games and capped off a four game road trip winning three of them. Beal finished with 33 and came up clutch down the stretch for the Wizards. 

The Wizards are now 12-18 and playing their best basketball all year. Washington in their past seven games has knocked off six teams that are all most likely going to be in the postseason come this spring. Many people counted out the Wizards on this trip: However, Washington showed up out west and is going to be flying home happy. Wizards return home to play a struggling Timberwolves team. Keep it going Washington, you’re hot.

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