Nuggets put stop to roll by Wizards

Anthony scores 23 points, Miller 34 in 111-105 victory that ends four-game streak

Pro Basketball

December 09, 2004|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Coming into MCI Center last night with the distinction of sharing the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Wizards ran into an obstacle they hadn't faced all season: a Western Conference opponent.

The result, if not quite as predictable this season, was certainly not pretty.

Led by two of their less-publicized players, the Denver Nuggets ran past the Wizards, 111-105, stopping Washington's four-game winning streak and extending their own winning streak to three straight.

Point guard Andre Miller scored a season-high 34 points, while notable Wizard-killer Earl Boykins, the NBA's shortest player, finished with 13 points and eight assists off the bench. Gilbert Arenas led Washington (10-6) with 28 points, and Antawn Jamison had 27 points and 11 rebounds.

It was a relatively quiet night for Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony, who after scoring 28 points in each of his last two games, finished with 23 points and seven rebounds.

The former Syracuse and Towson Catholic star didn't mind relinquishing the stage to Miller, Boykins and center Marcus Camby, who had 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

"Andre came out hot early and that gave us a big boost," said Anthony. "When we get on a run like we did, at the beginning and a little bit at the end, it's pretty hard to stick with us."

Not that Anthony didn't help his team's cause. He scored 11 points in the first half as Denver (11-7) built a 10-point lead, 60-50. After seeing a 13-point lead cut to four, 100-96, Anthony took a lob pass from Camby and laid the ball softly off the backboard with a little over three minutes left.

But it was Miller and Boykins who did most of the damage.

Miller, who came into the night averaging 12 points a game but had scored a then-season-high 28 in Monday night's home win over Orlando, scored on a steady stream of mid-range jumpers and drives to the basket.

"We got off to a good start and we played through their runs," said Miller, who hit 15 of 25 shots, while also finishing with eight rebounds and eight assists in 43 minutes. "It was good that we had that lead and we had enough points to fight their runs."

Said Boykins, who is generously listed at 5 feet 5, "The biggest thing is that we have so many guys who can score and that makes us pretty hard to guard."

Especially Boykins, who proved as disruptive to Washington's sometimes shaky perimeter defense as he did last season and he has throughout his well-traveled career, particularly in Denver and Golden State.

Asked why Boykins is so difficult to defend, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said, "It seems like I was asked the same thing last year. He's just very unique."

The game served as a preview for when the Wizards embark on their first West Coast swing next week, including back-to-back games against the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.

Jordan also saw last night's game as an opportunity missed of sweeping a stretch of games when five of six are at home and all but last night's were against teams with losing records.

The Wizards, who had won four straight at home, host New York tomorrow and New Orleans on Sunday.

"Some things that we were able to get away with before, we just didn't tonight," said Jordan.

It was Denver's 10th victory in the past 13 games.

Last night, Anthony wasn't distracted by the presence of "about 3,000" family membersand fans from Baltimore - including Cal Ripken, who was a guest of minority owner Ted Leonsis - in helping his team start a long road trip on a good note.

"We were tired of playing at home, we wanted to get on the road," said Anthony. "We wanted to feel what it was like playing on the road. The crowd was into it. Washington is a better team than it was last year. They gave us a run."

NOTE: The Wizards activated former Maryland player Laron Profit while placing another ex-Terp, Steve Blake, on the injured list because of recurring problems in his left foot.

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