- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2002

There are some teams that just don't match up well against other NBA teams. However, after watching the Washington Wizards conduct their second glorified practice against the Denver Nuggets, it's hard to believe this horrible bunch from the Rockies could look good against any opponent.

Actually, it's hard to conceptualize the Nuggets winning the 21 games. Last night they were at their worst, falling behind by 32 points as the Wizards (33-38) got back on the winning track with an easy 103-87 victory at MCI Center.

Most importantly the victory, coupled with Detroit's 96-77 victory over Indiana, allowed the Wizards to close to within 2½ games of the Pacers for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 11 games left in the season.

However, last night's victory pretty much completes the gimme portion of the Wizards' remaining schedule. Of their final 11, beginning with Friday's home game against Milwaukee, nine of the teams left have a .500 record or better.

Guard Chris Whitney had his most productive offensive game of the season, scoring a season-high 22 points and handing out a game-high seven assists. Richard Hamilton also netted 22 points. Rookie center Etan Thomas came off the bench to notch a career-high 13 points and grab seven rebounds.

Forward Donnell Harvey came off the Denver bench to lead the Nuggets with 18 points, 12 in the fourth quarter. Former Washington forward Juwan Howard added 17 points despite the non-stop booing showered on him all night. Denver fell to 21-48.

When the Wizard played the Nuggets last week at Pepsi Center in Denver, Washington led by as many as 36 points and went on to win by its largest margin, 107-75, of the season.

A must victory, this one was over by halftime. It was such a blowout that by far the most entertaining aspect of the night was the constant trash-talk conduced between Michael Jordan (nine points) and Denver reserve Voshon Lenard (16). Jordan, who played 20 minutes, and Lenard went at it almost the entire night.

Clearly it was playful and not malicious. This was evident late in the game when Lenard's teammates, Harvey and Kenny Satterfield, laughed at something Jordan said to Lenard after Jordan converted a 3-point play with 8:08 left.

The Wizards played the first half with a type of urgency they didn't display over the weekend in their crucial loss at Toronto.

The Wizards forced the listless Nuggets into committing 15 turnovers in the first half alone and 21 in the game, which Washington converted into 28 points.

When the Wizards beat Denver last week, they put them away with a 21-2 run. And last night wasn't much different. Washington used a 20-7 run in the second quarter that put the Wizards up 49-23 with just more than four minutes showing.

On the way to building this surprising lead, the Wizards, not exactly known as one of the more athletic teams in the NBA, gave the sellout crowd some dunks to cheer about.

Reserve Tyrone Nesby provided the best one when he picked up a lose ball and soared in for a one-handed jam. Courtney Alexander (14 points) provided a pair, catching an alley oop once and exploding for a one-hander as well.

Even rookie Kwame Brown got into the show. Matched up with former University of Florida forward Harvey, who would have been Brown's teammate if Brown had not skipped college and Harvey stayed put for more than one season, Brown, his back to the basket, spun around Harvey, rose and extended, and jammed hard over his opponent.

Brown finished with eight points and five rebounds.


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