Washington (17-53) at Denver (43-29)

By BRETT HUSTON, STATS Senior Writer Friday, Mar 25, 2011 Tipoff: 9:00 pm EDT Fri Mar 25, 2011

The Denver Nuggets haven’t lost at home since early February, and they’ve routinely routed sub-.500 opponents at the Pepsi Center since Carmelo Anthony(notes) was traded.

There’s little reason to believe anything will change with a visit from the Washington Wizards.

The Nuggets look to win their ninth straight at home and maintain their hold on the Western Conference’s fifth seed Friday night as they look to drop the Wizards to 1-34 on the road.

Denver (43-29) beat Dallas by a point in its final home game with Anthony on Feb. 10, and hasn’t lost there since. The Nuggets beat Memphis, Boston and Atlanta each by double digits immediately following the trade, and they started March with blowouts of three sub-.500 East foes by an average of 34.4 points.

Coach George Karl’s team was in the rare position of playing almost entirely from behind Wednesday against San Antonio, but it didn’t blink. Reserve Al Harrington(notes) hit three 3-pointers during a 16-5 fourth-quarter run that turned a seven-point deficit into a four-point lead, and Denver held on to beat the league-best Spurs 115-112.

The Nuggets, 11-4 since dealing away Anthony, are 1 1/2 games ahead of Portland for fifth in the West.

Despite finishing with 27 points and his team nailing 12 of 21 3-pointers, Harrington was quick to credit a defense that’s allowed 95.9 points since the trade - 9.3 fewer than it surrendered with Anthony.

“I think the biggest difference in our team post-trade is we try to defend every single possession,” Harrington said. “We don’t give up easy shots anymore. After a while it wears on teams.”

The Wizards (17-53) began their five-game road trip with a 111-76 loss in Portland on Tuesday, and they seemed well on their way to another rout after falling behind by 12 after one quarter Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Washington didn’t go quietly, but ran out of gas in double overtime of a 127-119 defeat.

“It’s tough to lose this game. We did everything we had to do,” said rookie John Wall(notes), who had a career-high 32 points and 10 assists. “We fought hard, but down the stretch I missed a free throw that could have put us up by four and they just got the stops they needed. We didn’t close it out.”

Center JaVale McGee(notes) had 22 points and 13 boards and rookie Jordan Crawford(notes) had 25 points and 10 assists.

Crawford has averaged 22.0 points while starting the last five games for Nick Young(notes), but he might be headed back to the bench Friday. Young, who’s been nursing a knee injury, is probable.

Rashard Lewis(notes) (knee) likely won’t play again this season, while Josh Howard(notes) (knee) and Andray Blatche(notes) (shoulder) remain out.

Young had 26 points when Denver visited the nation’s capital on Jan. 25, but Harrington helped lift the Nuggets to a 120-109 win by hitting 6 of 8 3-pointers and finishing with 21 points.

The Wizards, who head down the stretch trying to avoid matching the 1990-91 Sacramento Kings’ 1-40 road record as the worst in NBA history, have lost seven of eight in Denver.

Not many Eastern clubs have won at the Pepsi Center in recent years. The Nuggets are 13-1 at home against the East this season and 30-3 dating to March 25, 2009.

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