Nuggets-Wizards Preview

The Associated Press

After finally getting their first-round pick on the court, the Washington Wizards are looking to get back to .500.

Washington, which had won seven of nine following a sluggish start to the season, will try to get back on track Monday in a home matchup against the Denver Nuggets.

The Wizards opened with seven losses in their first nine games before an exact reversal of that stretch evened their record after last Monday's 98-80 win over Orlando.

Washington (9-10) slipped in its previous contest, losing 109-105 in overtime on Friday against Eastern Conference-worst Milwaukee.

The setback did have its bright spot, however, with Otto Porter Jr. making his Wizards debut after being selected third overall in June. Porter, who missed the first 18 games because of a hip injury, played 14 minutes but missed all three of his field goal attempts. He went scoreless with two rebounds and an assist.

"My first game, first time playing in the NBA, something I've been waiting my whole life for," Porter said. "It was pretty cool. I was excited myself. Come out, get a couple minutes in, get my feet wet a little bit."

Porter's presence won't solve any lingering issue for the Wizards, who are allowing 100.2 points and 44.1 rebounds per game - both ranking among the worst in the league.

Washington's post defense was poor against the Bucks, who had 52 points in the paint.

"The defense was atrocious," Wizards coach Randy Whitman said. "We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do."

John Wall had 30 points and eight assists for Washington, which needs to step up on the defensive end against an up-tempo Denver team that is sixth in the league with a 104.0 scoring average. The Nuggets are also strong on the glass with 46.1 rebounds per game.

Denver (12-8) improved to 3-2 on its six-game eastern trip with a 103-92 comeback victory in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Slow starts have been an issue during the trip for the Nuggets, who surprisingly have trailed after the first quarter in all five games. Denver is averaging 27.1 points in the opening period this season - fourth-most in the NBA.

Strong play from their reserves has helped the Nuggets recover from the early stumbles. Nate Robinson came off the bench and scored a team-high 20 points against the 76ers, while fellow reserve Jordan Hamilton chipped in 13.

Both players were key in the fourth quarter, when Denver outscored Philadelphia 26-15 to pull away. Hamilton hit a trio of 3-pointers in a 67-second span after the Sixers had pulled within four.

"He's been doing that for us. He spaces the floor," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said of Hamilton. "We finally got some movement when our guards started to attack, their defense started to converge and he found the open windows."

The Nuggets' reserves are second in the NBA with 45.3 points per game, while the Wizards are last in that category with an average of 19.3.

Washington swept the two-game series between the teams last season after dropping nine of the previous ten meetings.

What to Read Next