(AP) — After being active on the trade front in recent seasons, the Denver Nuggets got what they wanted before this year’s deadline – a healthy lineup.
The Nuggets, who decided to stay patient and build around their core of emerging players, look to end a three-game road skid on Friday night when they face a Washington Wizards team that shipped out an unhappy scorer at the deadline.
While Denver sent Carmelo Anthony to New York at the deadline two years ago and acquired big man JaVale McGee from Washington last season, the team decided to stand pat this time and let the current group develop.
“We need to be patient as a team and an organization, to grow a little bit,” executive vice president Masai Ujiri said. “Just see how it goes.”
Denver (34-21) was going strong with nine straight wins – the franchise’s best run since the 2004-05 season – before losing three in a row just before the All-Star break.
Leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (sinus infection), one of the players acquired in the Anthony trade, and Andre Iguodala (cervical strain) both returned to the lineup in Tuesday’s 97-90 victory over Boston after missing the last two games during the skid.
Gallinari showed no signs of rust with 26 points and 4-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, but Iguodala had a season-low one point and missed all seven of his field-goal attempts.
Denver averaged 113.0 points – 8.1 above its season average – during a run of 13 consecutive games with at least 100 points that came to an end against the Celtics. That streak began with a 112-108 home loss to Washington on Jan. 18.
Point guard Ty Lawson had 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting in that defeat. He’s also playing at high level heading into this contest, averaging 27.5 points on 62.1 percent shooting in his last four games.
His counterpart, John Wall, had 14 points and 12 assists in his fourth game back as Washington handed the Nuggets only their third home loss. While the Wizards have the NBA’s third-worst record (15-37), they’re 10-9 since Wall rejoined the club.
Wall, though, will try to bounce back from one of the worst performances of his career after finishing with nine points on 1-of-12 shooting and seven turnovers in a 96-88 loss to Toronto on Tuesday.
“I’ll burn it, burn it and look forward to the next one,” Wall said. “It’s the first game back after the break.”
Washington moved one player at the deadline who didn’t seem to adjust well following Wall’s return. Jordan Crawford was sent to Boston on Thursday for center Jason Collins and injured point guard Leandro Barbosa.
Even though Barbosa is out for the season with a torn ACL, the Wizards acquired some flexibility with both players having expiring contracts.
Crawford was the team’s third-leading scorer (13.2 ppg), but played a limited role with Wall back. His frustration appeared to boil over on Tuesday when he tossed his jersey into the stands as he walked off the court after failing to get off the bench for the fourth straight game.
The Wizards believe rookie Bradley Beal may be the answer alongside Wall in the backcourt. Beal scored a team-high 25 points against the Raptors, and has averaged 21.0 in his last three games after nursing a sprained wrist.
He also had 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting – including 4 for 7 from 3-point range – in the first meeting with the Nuggets.
Denver has won seven of the last nine meetings in the nation’s capital.
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