Nick Wass/Associated Press
WASHINGTON – A day after spending 2˝ hours at the dentist to fix his two chipped front teeth – parts of which apparently became embedded in Cartier Martin’s forehead – Bradley Beal landed hard on the court while his Washington Wizards were trying to hold on to a lead.
It was therefore fitting that, after he showered in the locker room, he put on a sweatshirt with the word “Reckless.”
“That’s me,” Beal said. “Young and reckless.”
Teammates were razzing the rookie after the game, which was OK because the Wizards came away with a win despite wasting much of an 18-point fourth-quarter lead. Washington put seven players in double figures Friday night in a 119-113 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
“We were saying on the bench, ‘he’s having a rough rookie year,’” said Emeka Okafor, who led the Wizards with 17 points and 13 rebounds. “Got his teeth knocked out (Thursday), and then continued to get banged up twice, ran into the cameraman and then did some type of gymnastic-worthy landing. It’s crazy, but he’s a tough kid, he’s young, his body can handle it.”
Beal, who finished 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, banged his head while fouling Ty Lawson as the guard drove to the basket with 1 minute, 7 seconds to play. Beal lay on the floor for a few moments but quickly was back in the game and hit a pair of clinching free throws in the final seconds.
He was wearing a mouth guard because of his head-to-head collision with Martin in practice a day earlier, an impact so powerful that Martin said the doctor removed parts of Beal’s teeth while sewing more than a dozen stitches to close the wound.
“It’s been a tough week,” Beal said.
The Wizards never trailed as they broke a two-game losing streak and added another example to its knack for knocking off top teams while sitting near the bottom of the NBA standings.
It’s the kind of loss the Nuggets don’t need as they jostle for seeding in the Western Conference. They’ve dropped four in a row on the road, giving up at least 109 points each time.
“I’m a little concerned that we don’t respect the opponent on the road enough to think defense first and then worry about offense – because offense usually happens when we play defense,” Nuggets coach George Karl said.
The Nuggets shot 48 percent from the field but made only 4 of 22 3-pointers. Lawson had 27 points and 12 assists, Wilson Chandler had 22 points, and Andre Miller scored a season-high 19.
They also have the dubious distinction of getting swept by the Wizards, having lost at home to Washington 112-108 on Jan. 18.
The Nuggets cut the Wizards’ lead to three on Andre Iguodala’s baseline 3-pointer with 4:02 remaining and pulled within two after John Wall fancy-dribbled himself into a turnover that led to a Nuggets’ fast break, with Lawson hitting a pair of free throws with 1:07 remaining to make it 113-111.
Wall missed a floater with less than a minute to play, but Nenę blocked Lawson’s layup with 33 seconds to go to keep the margin at two. Wall then redeemed himself, making an open 19-footer that put the Wizards ahead 115-111 with 14 seconds left.
Miller then missed a driving layup in a crowd that essentially ended Denver’s last threat.
JaVale McGee, traded from the Wizards to the Nuggets at last year’s trade deadline, made nine in his first return visit to Washington. He heard some boos and a few claps as he entered the game in the first quarter, and his foul on Garrett Temple’s 14-foot jumper allowed Washington to convert a momentum-sustaining three-point play at the end of the third quarter.
“It really wasn’t emotional. For some reason I have a selective memory,” McGee said after putting on a pair of Dr. Seuss socks. “So I remember the stuff I want to remember, so it wasn’t like I was having flashbacks or stuff like that.”