- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2001

WIZARDS 101, NUGGETS 98

DENVER With Mitch Richmond playing like a six-time All-Star, the Washington Wizards ended their six-day, four-game road trip with a 101-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Richmond scored a season-high 29 points, including a jumper with 5.8 seconds left to seal the victory, as the Wizards ended a six-game losing streak. He also passed Tom Chambers for 25th on the all-time scoring list with 20,064 points.

"Mitch just came up big for us tonight. That's all there is to it," Wizards coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Tonight it seemed like he was hitting big shot after big shot. But it wasn't just Mitch. The guys executed very well tonight at the offensive end. They were making shots and forcing Denver to get the ball out of the basket instead of getting out on the break."

Juwan Howard added 21 points for the Wizards (13-40), who return home tomorrow to face the suddenly hot Vancouver Grizzlies. Richard Hamilton finished with 18 points, and Chris Whitney had 16. Jahidi White was the lone starter who did not finish in double figures in scoring.

Antonio McDyess led the Nuggets (28-26), who lost for just the seventh time at home, with 29 points. Nick Van Exel finished with 16 points and 15 assists. The Nuggets blocked 13 shots.

"We can't afford to lose any home games, much less to a team that has only won 12 games all season," Nuggets coach Dan Issel said.

Despite a horrible road record (7-19), the Nuggets are in the hunt for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference because they have been tough at home (21-7). In fact, in a just completed trip East, the Nuggets went 1-5, with their sole victory coming over Washington on Feb. 3.

But Washington has been worse on the road than Denver, winning just five of 23 games, including last night. With the victory Washington (13-40) has won four straight games at Denver.

The Wizards led almost the entire second half. With the Nuggets closing within two late, Richmond hit a couple of baskets to extend the lead to 99-93 on a jumper. McDyess pulled the Nuggets back within 99-95.

After the Wizards called timeout with 1:17 left in the game, the Wizards were whistled for a shot-clock violation and McDyess was fouled. He hit just one free throw, but after a possession by the Wizards that produced nothing, McDyess closed the lead to 99-98.

After a timeout, Richmond closed the deal with his game-winner over Van Exel.

"It was a great game," Richmond said. "I made a great shot down the stretch. Nick switched on me, and I knew I had the height advantage. I made a little room for myself and I hit it. It's good to be in a situation and make that shot at the end. We ran that play a couple of times before that, and that time it just happened to work for us."

In a run-and-gun first quarter in which they made almost 58 percent of their shots, the Wizards stayed right with the Nuggets. Howard, going head-to-head with McDyess, knocked down nine points. Whitney, who gutted out another night in spite of muscle spasms in his neck and gimpy ankles, connected on both of his 3-point attempts for six points.

Washington's crisp offensive effort allowed it to get to the end of the quarter trailing just 33-32.

At the start of the second quarter things went the Wizards' way. Washington put together a 10-0 run that seemed to leave the Nuggets confused.

In fact, the Wizards held the Nuggets without a point until former Bullet Robert Pack, a reserve with the Nuggets, scored with 7:18 left in the half to close within 42-35.

Denver made a little run at the Wizards in the ensuing minutes, but their momentum was slowed when McDyess picked up his third foul with 5:26 left in the half. Howard stepped to the line to give Washington, which shot 50 percent from the field, a 46-39 lead.

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