WASHINGTON — To prepare for the playoffs, Denver coach Brian Shaw said he wants his high-scoring team to learn to win tough games.
There was no better training ground for bump-and-grind basketball than Monday’s 75-74 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Wilson Chandler scored 17 points, ex-Huskies star Nate Robinson added 16, and Kenneth Faried had a key block and transition dunk with 33 seconds to go.
Washington had three possessions after Faried put Denver ahead, but John Wall missed a layup, Trevor Ariza missed a 3-pointer, Chandler blocked a layup try by Garrett Temple and Robinson stripped the ball from Wall in the closing seconds.
Denver, which came in sixth in the NBA in scoring (104 points per game), had its lowest output of the season — falling 13 points below its previous low — but was able to conclude a 4-2 trip. Holding Washington without a field goal for the final 4:04, Denver showed some of the grit that it hopes to employ later in the season.
“We didn’t even get into the 80s tonight,” Shaw said. “But just being able to execute down the stretch, make tough defensive stops when we needed to, I thought we did that tonight, especially at the end of the game.”
Chandler also had eight rebounds as the Nuggets rallied from 12 points down in the second half, and Robinson helped the Denver reserves outscore their depleted Washington counterparts 34-5.
Wall finished with 20 points and eight assists, Marcin Gortat scored 16 points, and Trevor Booker added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards.Wall was miffed by a no-call at the end of the game, when Robinson made the last of his four steals.
“Same thing that was happening all game but I didn’t get the call,” Wall said. “Nate Robinson was grabbing my arm every time I went by him and that’s how I lost the ball and we lose a tough game tonight.”
In the other locker room, Robinson told reporters that he would “let you all make that decision.”
Robinson had another key play when he sneaked through a screen, stole a pass, and streaked for a fast-break layup, giving Denver its first lead since the second quarter, 73-72.
“You gotta be scrappy, do whatever it takes to win,” Robinson said.
Neither team led by more than four points in a stagnant first half until Washington scored six straight, including four by Wall, to go up 43-36 with 2 minutes to go.
Ex-UW star hurts foot: Grizzlies guard/forward and University of Washington alum Quincy Pondexter is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his right foot. Memphis announced that Pondexter had an MRI on Monday that revealed the severity of his injury. Pondexter hurt his foot Saturday in a 108-82 loss to the Warriors.
Divisions divisive? Deputy commissioner Adam Silver says he expects the NBA to consider whether having divisions is still useful, with every team in the Atlantic currently under .500. Silver said Monday that he has discussed “whether divisions have outlived their usefulness” and that he thinks the competition committee “will be taking a fresh look at” divisions when it next meets.
The NBA has six divisions, and each winner is guaranteed no worse than a No. 4 playoff seed.
DUI plea for Odom: Former NBA player Lamar Odom pleaded no contest Monday to a drunken driving charge and accepted a sentence of three years’ probation and three months of alcohol abuse treatment.
Trade complete: The trade sending Rudy Gay from the Raptors to the Kings is complete. The seven-player deal was agreed to Sunday. The Raptors received Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes. The Kings also acquired Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy.McClatchy news services