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Wizards snap two-game skid with win over Nuggets

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

The Wizards rediscovered their habit of beating up on playoff-bound teams after an All-Star induced malaise, running up the score on the Denver Nuggets and cancelling out their own mistakes with unselfish and clutch playmaking in a 119-113 victory.

The win was the ninth in 11 games at home for the Wizards (16-37), who scored their second-most points of the season, improved to 11-9 with Wall in the lineup and swept their season series with Denver for the first time since 2001-02. The Nuggets (34-22), who recently won nine games in a row, lost their fourth straight road game and dropped to 11-19 overall away from the Mile High City.

"I think we got back to where we wanted to be before the break started," said John Wall (14 points, 10 assists, three blocks), one of a season-high seven Wizards to score in double figures and one of three to register a double-double.

Wall knocked down a wide-open jumper from the elbow for a 115-111 lead with 13.7 seconds remaining after committing the last of six careless turnovers and missing a one-handed runner on the previous two possessions.

"He's trying to work his way into a flow here, guys," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "As we've talked about everybody on our team, there's ebbs and flows and ups and downs, and you've got to fight through them. I thought John fought through it today."

Bradley Beal (17 points, career-high 12 rebounds) played with ferocious abandon, and wore a mouth guard, the day after chipping both of his front teeth in a face-to-face collision with Cartier Martin in practice the day before, and Emeka Okafor (17 points, 13 rebounds) got his 13th double-double, turning the clock back with a slam over tenacious, young forward Kenneth Faried.

After setting a season-high for first-half points scored and allowed when the teams went into the break tied at 64, the Wizards opened the third quarter with a 13-0 run.

A 16-point advantage at the start of the fourth quarter dwindled to three points on a layup by Ty Lawson (27 points, 12 assists) with 2:27 remaining. After Trevor Ariza (16 points) inexplicably airballed a 10-foot jump shot, Beal chased down Andre Miller (19 points, seven assists) from behind to block his layup on the ensuing fast break. The ball ended up back in Ariza's hands for an open 3-pointer.

Wall coughed up the ball to give the Nuggets (34-22) another chance, and Beal soared to try and block Lawson under the basket. Lawson's pump fake led to contact, and Beal flipped head over heels, landing on his head and back to send a scare through the Verizon Center crowd of 16,527. In the first half he'd also tumbled over a baseline camera man.

"We were saying on the bench he's having a rough rookie year," Okafor said. "He got his teeth knocked out yesterday and then continued to get banged up twice today. He had a run-in with the camera man, and then did some type of gymnastic-worthy landing. It was crazy. But he's a tough kid. He's young. His body can handle it, and he jumped right back in."

After the game, Beal donned a Los Angeles Reckless sweatshirt and proclaimed, "That's me, young and reckless."

The Wizards played without Jordan Crawford for the first time since he was traded to Boston, and without Jason Collins, who will join Washington from the Celtics on Saturday.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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