NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, February 19th (All times eastern)
Denver Nuggets (36-18) at Washington Wizards (18-33), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Denver Nuggets will attempt to build off a very uplifting victory when the Northwest Division leaders head to Washington's Verizon Center tonight to take on the revamped Wizards.
Denver comes in off Thursday's 118-116 overtime decision on the road over the powerful Cleveland Cavaliers, owners of the NBA's best record this season. The thrilling win came in the team's first game since head coach George Karl announced that he was recently diagnosed for a treatable form of neck and throat cancer.
Carmelo Anthony led the way with 40 points, with the final two coming on a tie-breaking jumper with just 1.9 seconds remaining in the extra period. Kenyon Martin added 18 points and 17 rebounds for the Nuggets, who currently sport a 1 1/2-game edge on second-place Utah in the Northwest standings.
A three-pointer from Chauncey Billups with 1:18 left in overtime staked Denver to a 116-111 lead, but the Cavaliers scored the next five points and tied the contest on LeBron James' basket and subsequent free throw with 23.1 seconds on the clock. Anthony would deliver on the ensuing possession, though, by hitting a shot with James in his face with time winding down.
"I'm amazed that we can make so many mistakes and can still win," said Karl, who was on the bench two days after undergoing his first chemotherapy session. "Great game to watch, but I'm not sure that it will go on my coaching resume as very polished. We probably should've won the game a little easier, but we kept giving [the Cavaliers] chances and they kept taking advantage of it."
Denver will now be shooting for a sixth consecutive victory over the Wizards, who continued to overhaul their roster at the trade deadline. Having already shipped out former All-Stars Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison as well as steady center Brendan Haywood this past week, Washington made another move by sending forward Dominic McGuire to Sacramento on Thursday in exchange for a second- round draft choice and cash considerations.
"At some point you have to make a change," Wizards head coach Flip Saunders said of the roster shuffle. "We have some confidence in some of our young players, and now we've got flexibility to do a lot of things."
The remodeling paid off in Wednesday's 108-99 win over Minnesota at the Verizon Center. Andray Blatche, slotted into an increased role with Haywood's departure, delivered a career-best 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Washington to its fourth triumph in its last seven outings.
Mike Miller, one of the few holdovers on the Wizards' roster, chipped in by hitting all five of his three-point attempts -- three of which came during a late fourth-quarter run -- in a 17-point effort. Josh Howard, acquired from Dallas in the Butler deal, added 14 points off the bench in his Washington debut.
Denver has prevailed in 11 of the last 13 meetings between these teams and owns a 5-1 record at the Verizon Center over that span.
02/19 10:31:09 ET