WASHINGTON -- It's not often a team misses three alley-oops in one quarter and still wins by 26 points. It's even rarer for the Washington Wizards to start 0-5.
That hasn't happened since they were the Baltimore Bullets.
The Denver Nuggets treated the Verizon Center as their own personal playground Friday night, breaking a three-game losing streak with a 118-92 victory that provided comic relief for the winners and showers of boos for the losers.
"We scored 118; we threw away 20," Denver coach George Karl said. "We play a style where I know we're going to have mistakes, but sometimes we make the mistakes and don't make the defense make the plays. It will be interesting the film we'll put together -- maybe we'll put it to Abbott and Costello."
Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points, including 12 consecutive Denver points in the third quarter. Marcus Camby added 13 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Nuggets, who shot 51 percent and rebounded from a 119-93 pounding Wednesday night at Boston.
"We lost three straight -- and this was the game we really needed," Anthony said. "We needed to get our confidence back, get our swagger back."
The Wizards fell to 0-5 for the first time since 1966, when their home was up the road in Baltimore. The third quarter has to rank among the most embarrassing 12 minutes of basketball since the team moved to the nation's capital: Coach Eddie Jordan, who pronounced his team's mind-set as "fine" before the game, watched his team miss 7 of 10 shots, commit 12 turnovers and get outscored 33-11 in the quarter.
"We just weren't disciplined. We didn't stay organized. We didn't rebound. We didn't share the ball. We didn't execute," Jordan said. "It's one of the most disappointing games I've been involved in."
Gilbert Arenas, still laboring on a surgically repaired left knee that was drained for a second time on Wednesday, finished with 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting. He made 2 of 8 3-pointers and is 5-for-32 from 3-point range on the season. He remained in the trainer's room long after the game and was not available for comment, needing treatment after playing 42 minutes on Thursday in New Jersey and 37 minutes on Friday.
"Back-to-back's going to be difficult for him right now," Jordan said.
Caron Butler scored 14 of his 21 points in the first quarter for the Wizards, while Antawn Jamison (6-for-17) and DeShawn Stevenson (0-for-6) continued to struggle from the field. Washington shot 38 percent, only a slight improvement over their NBA-worst 36.4 percent entering the game.
"We need to get our act in order, and we have to find a way to get a win, period," Jamison said. "Not only get a win, but find a way to get this thing rolling because it's not rolling at all. You can see it. When you're out there, you're experiencing it."
The Nuggets had won their first two and lost their next three, but they were in the mood to have fun Friday. They attempted six alley-oops, missing all three in the second quarter but making three others, including a poetry-in-motion twisting reverse slam by J.R. Smith on a feed from Allen Iverson in the fourth quarter.
Smith finished with 16 points and Iverson had 15 points and eight assists, but Anthony had the best run. The Baltimore native's 12 straight points in the third quarter all came on jump shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, as part of a 14-4 spurt that gave the Nuggets an 80-58 lead. Anthony went 3-for-13 against the Celtics, but he was 14-for-24 Friday night.
"'Melo led us tonight. He caught fire," Iverson said. "We just rode his coattails all the way in."
Anthony tweaked his ankle on a putback in the second quarter but said he would be fine for Saturday's game at Indiana. ... Nuggets F Nene had surgery Friday on a torn ligament in his left thumb. He's expected to be sidelined about six weeks. ... Denver G Mike Wilks sat out with a strained right hamstring. ... The Nuggets failed to recognize how horrendous traffic can be on a rainy Friday night in the nation's capital. A bus carrying four of the team's five starters and coach Karl needed 75 minutes to travel the 2½ miles from the hotel and arrived less than an hour before tip-off. Asked about his trip, Karl rolled his eyes and muttered: "Fun D.C." ... The Wizards averaged 104.3 last season with essentially the same lineup. This season they've averaging 90.4. ... Camby made his first 3-pointer since Dec. 26, 2005.