DENVER (AP)—The Birdman was back in business for the Denver Nuggets.
Chris Andersen(notes) grabbed 11 rebounds and was one of four Denver players to score 17 points as the Nuggets beat the Washington Wizards 114-94 on Friday night. The performance came two nights after he played just over 5 minutes against San Antonio.
“I tweaked my (right) knee that game before San Antonio,” said Andersen, whose 17 points were a season high and one shy of a career high. “I thought I could at least be out there playing the way I wanted play, but San Antonio, I wasn’t there physically because of my knee.”
Two days of rest made a big difference.
“Andersen just got it going,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said. “He dominated the game in the first quarter just with his defense.”
Washington fell to 1-34 on the road and has two games left on its five-game Western Conference road trip.
“We don’t look at our road record like that,” Crawford said. “We have only one win, but we still go out there believing we can win.”
While many thought the Nuggets would falter after trading their superstar, they’ve stayed in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Denver is in fifth place, four games behind Oklahoma City.
Denver stayed 1 1/2 games ahead of Portland, which beat San Antonio on Friday.
The Nuggets took the suspense out of this one early. The Wizards took a 16-15 lead midway through the first quarter before Denver closed out the period on a 15-0 run. Andersen had four of his five blocks in the first.
“He took away four layups,” Saunders said. “I mean, point-blank layups at the rim. If we get those layups, it’s a four-point game instead of a 12-point game.”
“Energy-wise, our bench has been better than our starters, especially with our Al and Bird,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “Al’s been having a good roll and Bird was great tonight.”
The Nuggets bench scored 57 points and is averaging 55.8 points over the last four games.
“Our thing is just go out there and play. People don’t expect much from the bench guys,” Smith said. “We have a great bench and whenever we get out there play loose and free.”
Denver led by as many as 25 in the second quarter before the Wizards trimmed it to 19 at the break.
Washington closed the gap to 80-67 late in the third, but Denver responded.
The Nuggets quickly got the lead back above 20. Felton and Andersen connected on another dunk, Andersen converted a three-point play and Ty Lawson hit a 3-pointer to make it 90-71 in the first 90 seconds of the fourth. Denver led by 26 in the period.
“The third quarter, it was a pretty good defensive quarter,” Karl said. “After that, it was just coast and cruise.”
Wall was the main offensive force for Washington early, scoring all 13 of his points before intermission despite hitting only 2 of 7 shots. He was 9 for 9 from the foul line.
Notes: Washington’s Trevor Booker(notes) had 10 points and 10 rebounds. … Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler(notes) didn’t play to rest his sore left ankle. Chandler sprained it before coming to the Nuggets. … Wizards guard Nick Young(notes) returned to the lineup after missing five games with a bruised left knee.