Nick Young was back in the starting lineup after missing the last five games with a bone bruise in his left knee. The team had had a day off in between games during which they had a light practice – part of getting used to the high altitude in Denver.
But by the end of the evening, the results were the same in the win-loss column as they have been in the first two games of this road trip – another loss, this time a 20-point drubbing by the Nuggets, 114-94.
The Wizards are now 17-54 overall, 1-34 on the road, and are dangerously close to tying the all-time mark for road futility of 1-40 set by the 1990-91 Sacramento Kings.
“They [the Nuggets] are a great first quarter team. They seem to get up big in the first quarter and they ride it out the rest of the day,” said Wizards coach Flip Saunders.
“After the first quarter we played them fairly even, but it was too much to overcome in the first quarter. I thought we took a step back, we weren’t communicating enough. We were competing, but we were competing on the second half. We were reacting instead of being more aggressive. I just told them to be more aggressive,” Saunders said.
The Nuggets led by as many as 24 points in the first half, and although the Wizards managed to close the scoring gap, the contest was never really close.
“I think what really sparked them in the third was getting energy off the bench,” Wall said.
“They played a lot of threes, they really got it going and they got a lot of second chance points. They are a great team and they are playing good. The other guys are stepping up since they traded Carmelo. The guys they got in the trade can really score the ball,” Wall said.
The Nuggets are now 12-4 since the February 22 trade that sent all-stars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the Knicks.
Jordan Crawford led the way for the Wizards with 19 points and 11 assists, Maurice Evans had 16 points and seven rebounds, and John Wall had 13 points and six assists. Crawford has now scored in double digits for nine straight games, averaging just under 20 points (19.9) during that stretch.
“I got in to a nice rhythm. I wish we could have competed a little more. We are just trying to get a nice rhythm and finish the season out strong,” Crawford said.
Crawford and Wall made NBA history in their last outing by becoming the first rookie duo to score at least 25 points and 10 assists each in the same game.
“The one thing, as a coach, sometimes you forget when you have a lot of young guys, a lot of rookies, when they come in to an arena, it is the first time they have been there,” Saunders said.
“So, the environment is an adjustment. Sometimes they get caught up in the different environment,” Saunders said.
The environment isn’t getting better any time soon. The Wizards have a day off for travel before facing the Warriors in San Francisco on Sunday, and then a back-to-back against the Jazz on Monday.
(Postgame quotes courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Media Relations Department).