Instant analysis: Nuggets 105, Wizards 102

Instant analysis: Nuggets 105, Wizards 102
March 23, 2014, 7:30 pm
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Denver Nuggets point guard Aaron Brooks (0) guards Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center.

(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Needing to win Sunday to break even on this four-game road trip, the Wizards lost for the third time -- two coming against non-playoff teams -- as they became listless after blowing a 14-point first-quarter lead at the Denver Nuggets.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 21 points.Trevor Ariza, who for a change did most of his damage inside the three-point arc, scored 17 of his game-high 18 points in the first half. The Wizards (37-34) fell behind briefly in the second but regained it 49-47 at the half because of two consecutive jump shots from John Wall and a buzzer-beater by Ariza. 

The Nuggets (32-38), however, were led by Kenneth Faried's 20 points, former Wizards guard Randy Foye with 17 and 52 points came from their reserves who included Darrell Arthur (15), Aaron Brooks (13) and former Wizards forward Jan Vesely (10). They played without starting small forward Wilson Chandler (groin).  

Marcin Gortat had 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks for the Wizards. Drew Gooden led the bench with 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting. 

Turning point: With the score tied at 84, Evan Fournier made consecutive baskets, and when Beal missed the chance for a steal it allowed Arthur to get a wide-open three-pointer that gave Denver its largest lead of the game with the seven-point run. 

Key stats: Wall had a season-high eight turnovers, and the Wizards had 24 overall which also was three above their previous season-high that came in the first week at the Miami Heat.

Trading places: In his first game against the Wizards since being traded Feb. 20, Nuggets PF Vesely had 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting, four rebounds and three steals in 15 minutes. Vesely had played sporadically under coach Brian Shaw, but J.J. Hickson (right knee) went down with a season-ending injury to open a spot in the rotation. Vesely went out in the third quarter, however, when he bit a pump fake from Gooden and came down on his shoulder to bruise his left rib cage. This also was the first game against the Nuggets for Andre Miller after he was traded in the same deal with Vesely. Miller logged 13 minutes and contributed two points on 1-for-3 shooting. 

From the locker room: "We ain't going to beat anybody with 24 turnovers. It doesn't who's playing, who's not playing or where you're playing. First quarter, we came out and played through our system, moving the ball, guys in the right spots, screening, passing and moving, we're up 14 and all of sudden from there it just stopped." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman 

"They definitely had a lot of energy. They were getting dunks to get them going, passing the ball, making the second rotation, third rotation and shooting the open shot. They executed. This is one of those games where we thought we would just show up and win the game versus just showing up and taking the game." -- Gooden

Up next: The Wizards returned to D.C. immediately after the game and could practice Monday and Tuesday before playing vs. Phoenix Suns at Verizon Center on Wednesday (CSN, 7 p.m. ET). 

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