Nuggets-Wizards Preview

The Associated PressJanuary 19, 2012

Coming off a win over one of the league's best teams, the NBA-worst Washington Wizards believe they can turn things around.

Seeking their first back-to-back victories this season, the Wizards face a Denver Nuggets team trying to stay unbeaten during a five-game trek Friday night.

Washington, which owns the NBA's worst record at 2-12, looked like anything but a bottom feeder Wednesday, defeating Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City 105-102.

Two nights after recording a career-high 38 points in a 114-106 loss to Houston, John Wall scored 25 to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds.

"I think when you get a win like this, you gotta move forward, you gotta keep building. ... We just gotta keep it up and play like this against everybody," Wall said.

"We know we're better than our record. You're still 2-12. You still got a lot to do."

The Wizards outrebounded the Thunder 52-43, forced 21 turnovers and got to the foul line a season-best 43 times - making 31.

"It was great, only thing you can do is get ready for practice," Wall said. "Celebrate tonight, get ready for practice and (we) gotta get ready for a tough Denver Nuggets team that's gonna push the ball up and down the court."

Washington has dropped 14 of 17 meetings with the Nuggets (10-5) - including three straight by an average of 13.6 points.

Denver, which opened its trip by handing Milwaukee its first home defeat Tuesday, continued its impressive play Wednesday with a 108-104 overtime win at Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia.

Andre Miller came within two boards of posting a triple-double, recording a season-high 28 points - including Denver's last 10 in regulation - and 10 assists. Nene also came up big with 20 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.

The Nuggets proved especially difficult to slow down with both Miller and fellow point guard Ty Lawson on the court at the same time - a combination coach George Karl seems likely to continue to implement moving forward.

"When you put Ty Lawson and Andre Miller out there as guards, they are tough, tough to cover," 76ers coach Doug Collins told the league's official website. "They run that pick-and-roll, and they get you in so many different situations."

The Nuggets, who opened 4-10 on the road in 2010-11, have won four of seven as the visiting team this season largely because they've taken care of the basketball. Denver ranks among the league's best with just 13.6 turnovers per game on the road.

The Nuggets were without starting center Timofey Mozgov (back strain) and Rudy Fernandez (right Achilles' strain) versus Philadelphia. It's unknown if either will be available Friday.

Mozgov's absence would figure to make things easier on Wizards big man Andray Blatche, who had 12 points and 10 boards in his return to the starting lineup Wednesday.

Blatche, who missed three games with a sprained right shoulder before coming off the bench against the Rockets, was initially booed by the home crowd. He is scoring just 11.7 points per game on 39.9 percent shooting - significantly lower than the 16.8 points he averaged on 44.5 percent from the field last season.

"That was terrible," he said with a smile. "Oh man. We won. So if they want to do that and we win, I don't care."

Denver's Al Harrington has gone a combined 11 of 16 from 3-point range in totaling 58 points over his last two visits to the nation's capital.