Nurkic’s 17 points rally Nuggets over Wizards

Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay, right, drives for a basket as Washington Wizards guard Garrett Temple defends. (David Zalubowski/AP)

DENVER — Jusuf Nurkic was supposed to be imposing his will from the start of games. Saturday, he did it at the end and helped deliver a comeback win for the Denver Nuggets.

Nurkic scored all of his season-high 17 points in the second half and the Nuggets rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Washington Wizards 116-100.

D.J. Augustin had 17 points and 10 assists, and Gary Harris and Darrell Arthur also scored 17 points for Denver The Nuggets outscored Washington 41-17 in the final 12 minutes to win their fourth straight for the first time this season.

Will Barton finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, which got 75 points from its bench, including all the points in the fourth quarter.

"We got stops, took advantage of our stops and ran," Arthur said. "We came in and played team basketball, covered for each other, turned those guys over and took advantage."

The Nuggets finished their seven-game homestand at 5-2. They have won four in a row at home, also a season high.

John Wall had 19 points and 11 assists, and Otto Porter scored 21 points for the Wizards, who have lost five straight to fall 3 1/2 games behind Detroit for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"This leaves us in a really bad position," Wall said. "We just keep digging ourselves a bigger hole with 17 games left. We have to go a remarkable 15-2, basically."

Nurkic missed the first 33 games after having off-season surgery on his left knee. He played in 19 games starting Jan. 2 but scored in double figures in just three.

After sitting for eight games, he played sparingly Thursday before breaking out in the second half against Washington.

"That's my guy," Harris said. "To see him play so well is a good feeling."

Washington played its third game without Bradley Beal, who is out with a sprained pelvis. The Wizards built an 11-point lead late in the third quarter without their second-leading scorer, as Porter had 10 points and Wall eight in the period. Wall's 14-foot jumper at the buzzer made it 83-75 heading into the fourth.

Marcus Thornton's 3-pointer with 9:19 left gave the Wizards an 89-82 lead, but Denver rallied. Two dunks by Nurkic tied it and two 3-pointers by Arthur sparked an 18-2 Nuggets run that gave them a 100-91 lead.

"He deserved what he got tonight," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said of Nurkic. "It has been a rough go for him. This has not been the season he anticipated with the injury. How he's been lately, his state of mind, his work ethic, allowed him to have a positive impact. He shows you the force he can be."

Malone said Nurkic banged his left knee during the game but doesn't think it is serious.

Denver kept up the pressure, going ahead 110-95 on Nurkic's driving layup with 2:31 left.

"We hit the wall in the fourth quarter," Porter said. "The game seemed to turn our way in the third quarter before we struggled. Shots were missed and we had some turnovers and we weren't as effective on the defensive."


Wizards: Coach Randy Whitman said there was no setback for Beal and the team planned to keep him out Saturday. Beal joined the team Friday in Utah but didn't play in the loss. ... F Alan Anderson was out of the lineup with a left ankle injury. Anderson has played just seven games this season after undergoing off-season surgery on the ankle.

Nuggets: C Joffrey Lauvergne left the game in the third quarter after getting inadvertently hit in the face by Porter. He received stitches and didn't return. ... F Axel Toupane played out his 10-day contract Saturday. Malone has been happy with five games he has played. "He's been everything, if not more, that we could have asked for," Malone said. "Whether or not that translates into a second 10-day, we'll see."


Wizards: Host Detroit on Monday.

Nuggets: At Miami on Monday