By Howard Fendich, AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The scoreboard wasn’t working at the outset, when there were thousands of empty seats and the fans that did show up were quiet as can be, so the arena announcer pierced the silence Thursday night, telling the small gathering by just how much the mediocre Denver Nuggets were beating the mediocre Washington Wizards, basket after basket.
Eventually, the overhead electronic display began functioning, and when Wizards guard Bradley Beal’s airball led to a shot-clock violation with hosts already down by 12 and proud owners of seven turnovers and two made baskets, the till-then mum spectators mustered the energy to boo the home team.
It was that kind of night for the Wizards until the second half, when it became that sort of night for the Nuggets. Washington erased all of what had been a double-digit deficit and came back, thanks mainly to Beal’s 26 points and Denver’s season-high 29 turnovers, for a 92-85 victory over the Nuggets, a team missing two starters.
Washington, which began the day 12th in the 15-team Eastern Conference, improved to 8-13. The Nuggets lost for the fifth time in six games, dropping to 8-15.
With starting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay inactive because of what the team said was a sprained right ankle, the Nuggets went 5 1/2 minutes without a point in the fourth quarter. In that period, they had 10 of their turnovers and shot 1 for 14 on 3-pointers — including 0 for 4 in one last-minute possession.
Coach Michael Malone spoke beforehand about pondering lineup changes to give his team a spark, and in addition to Mudiay’s absence, Kenneth Faried was active but did not play.