National Basketball Association
DENVER -- A rough start to the season had Washington wondering if it would even make the playoffs.
The Wizards not only turned things around, now they're pushing Boston for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference after another impressive road win.
John Wall had 30 points and 10 assists, Bradley Beal scored 23 and Washington continued its dominant road play with a 123-113 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
Otto Porter Jr. had 22 points Marcin Gortat had 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Wizards, who won nine of their last 12 road games.
This one was made more special because the Wizards were playing in altitude a night after winning a shootout in Phoenix. They grabbed the lead early, watched Denver creep back in, but closed it out to improve to 13-15 overall away from home.
"It's not an easy back-to-back, getting in late against a team that plays fast," Washington coach Scott Brooks said. "Our team was professional and took care of business."
Gary Harris recorded a career-high 26 points, Wilson Chandler scored 21 and Mason Plumlee had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the short-handed Nuggets, whose lead over Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference shrunk to one game.
The Nuggets (29-35) played without Danilo Gallinari and Nikola Jokic, two of their top three scorers, as well as Kenneth Faried. Jokic missed his second consecutive game with an illness and Gallinari was suffering from vertigo.
"We've been down people all year and we've beaten teams short-handed so that's not an excuse at all," Harris said. "It definitely hurt not having them but we also have to go out there and compete and try to get a win."
The absence of three starters was too much to overcome against the surging Wizards (39-24), who had all five starters in double figures. They combined for 97 of Washington's 123 points.
The Wizards are 33-12 over their last 45 games and crept closer to Boston, which played a late game at Golden State on Wednesday.
"It's important," Beal said of the second seed. "If we make it out of the first round we'd have homecourt advantage."
Washington took control of the game with an 18-3 run in the second quarter that pushed a four-point lead to 63-44 with 1:58 left.
The Wizards led by 17 at half and by as much as 24 in the third quarter before Nuggets guard Jamal Murray scored 10 of his 17 points in the final 2:37 of the period to cut the deficit to 97-85.
"The defense played well but when we got up (24) points it started lagging and we didn't play with the sense of urgency we did to get it," Wall said. "We've got to figure it out and do a better job of it because playing good teams in the playoffs, you don't want to give them any life. We gave them a little bit of life but the second unit did a good job at the beginning of the fourth."
Washington increased its lead to 16 early in the fourth but the Nuggets got within 114-106 left after Markieff Morris was issued a Flagrant 2 foul with 2:08 left for a kick to Plumlee's crotch.
Plumlee was laying on the ground for several minutes but eventually got up.
"I don't like to stay on the ground for anything but I just couldn't get up," he said. "It takes some time for the pain to pass. That was the most direct hit I've taken. Everybody was asking if it was my knee. It wasn't my knee."
Brooks agreed with the flagrant call but said he doesn't think it warrants a suspension.
"You have to give the flagrant call but it wasn't intentional," he said. "It was the way his body was moving. Hopefully it works out. We need him; he's a big part of our success."
NOTES: The Wizards are 16-5 when Wall has at least 20 points and 10 assists. ... Denver F Kenneth Faried missed his sixth straight game with lower back spasms. Faried missed nine total games this season with lower back issues. ... The Wizards are 34-8 when shooting better than 45 percent from the field. They shot 56.8 percent Wednesday. ... Denver lost for the first time in 12 home games when shooting 50 percent or better.
Top Game Performances
John Wall 30
Gary Harris 26
John Wall 10
Jameer Nelson 6
Marcin Gortat 15
Juan Hernangomez 10
Markieff Morris 4
||Free Throws Made
Mason Plumlee 5
Otto Porter Jr. 4
Wilson Chandler 2
Darrell Arthur 1
Team Stats Summary
Denver will play their next game at home against Boston. The Nuggets have a W/L % of .333 after a win and .559 after a loss.
Washington will play their next game on the road against Sacramento. The Wizards have a W/L % of .590 after a win and .667 after a loss.