WASHINGTON (AP)—The fans cheered local favorite Carmelo Anthony and showed no mercy for their own pathetic team.
The Nuggets took control with a 16-2 run in the third quarter to break a three-game losing streak and win for just the second time in 10 games. Denver, clinging to the final Western Conference playoff spot, moved 1 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Utah.
“This win just feels great. It feels like we (haven’t) had a win in almost a month,” said Anthony, who shot 10-for-21 from the field and matched his career high with seven assists. “Just to get this one on the road and knowing that we’ve got to go to New Jersey and Milwaukee, this is a good start for us.”
The 30-point margin of defeat was Washington’s biggest of the season, and it was also the team’s 11th loss of 20 points or more. The Wizards didn’t put up much of an effort in a second half in which they gave up 71 points.
Fans booed frequently during the ugly fourth quarter, when the Wizards allowed Denver to shoot 74 percent. As he walked down the tunnel toward the locker room after the game, guard Juan Dixon heard taunts of “take the money and run.”
“That’s sad when it comes from your fans,” Dixon said.
“Gilbert stood out. Frankly, he played like an NBA player, and not many other people did for us,” Jordan said. “These signs have been with us throughout the year, and now when it’s really time to gut it out, only a few guys try to gut it out.”
Arenas choked up when told it was the worst loss of the season.
“It’s pride now, the last 20 games,” said Arenas, clearing his throat. “It’s the NBA. You’ve got to have pride if you want to be in this game.”
After receiving a warm pregame welcome, Anthony started slow, missing six of eight first-quarter shots. But his breathtaking one-handed jam midway through the second quarter woke up his team.
Denver outscored Washington 15-8 over the rest of the quarter, including a half-ending 11-0 run, to lead 46-39 at the break.
The Nuggets went 9-for-11 from the field to start the second half and quickly pulled away. Lenard left Arenas flat-footed on a baseline drive to get the lead to 17 points.
The Wizards made just six field goals in the third quarter, and half of those were by Dixon. Arenas went 0-for-5 in the quarter.
It was just what was needed for the Nuggets, who hope to use their road trip to break out of their slump.
“I thought during the game that perhaps just getting away is good,” coach Jeff Bzdelik said, “just getting away from the newspapers and the talk shows and everything in Denver that’s all maybe not so positive might be a goodthing. We’ll see.”
Hayes strained his left hamstring in the second quarter and did not return. His replacement, Jeffries, left in the third quarter with a sore right knee. Jordan said he didn’t think either will play Wednesday at Atlanta. Little-used Mitchell Butler was left to play small forward for much of the second half. “Who’s ready to play in here?” Jordan told reporters. “I’ll take anybody who’s ready to play, ready to set a solid pick, hit somebody going for a rebound. We’ll try you out tonight.” … Brown hurt his ankle in thesecond half, but he returned late in the fourth quarter.