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Denver at Washington

Thornton, Howard big in debut as Wizards handle Nuggets

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Al Thornton was weary.

He arrived in Washington at 2 a.m., watched his new team at shootaround Friday morning, and after a few hours of sleep, scored 21 points in the Wizards' 107-97 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Thornton's offense was welcome, and his defense on Carmelo Anthony was sublime.

"I just tried to make him frustrated," Thornton said. "When he gets in a groove, it's tough to stop him. It's been a knock on me at times that I don't play any defense."

Denver, fresh off a thrilling overtime win over Cleveland on Thursday night, lost for just the third time this season when holding a third-quarter lead. Washington's win was surprising, and for the new faces in the Wizards' locker room, refreshing.

Thornton was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Antawn Jamison deal Wednesday, and Josh Howard, starting for the first time since being acquired on Feb. 13 from Dallas, spearheaded a spirited fourth-quarter rally.

At the shootaround, Washington coach Flip Saunders was seemingly excited over the team's extreme makeover and delivered a unique pep talk.

"We've got to play like a bunch of mad dogs," he told them. "That's how we played tonight. We went after loose balls, rebounded. We didn't give up on plays. The crowd gets into it, the guys get juiced up."

The Wizards won for the second straight time since their changes, and erased an 82-73 deficit after three. The Nuggets seemed to have the game in hand until coach George Karl decided to rest Anthony and Chauncey Billups to start the fourth.

Washington outscored Denver 34-15 in the fourth quarter as Thornton held Anthony scoreless. Anthony, who scored 40 against the Cavaliers, missed all five of his shots. He didn't return until there was 5:35 to play.

Anthony entered as the NBA's third-leading scorer, averaging 28.5 points.

"I missed shots," Anthony said. "Shots that I made [Thursday] night, I didn't make tonight."

Howard had 20 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. His most memorable moment came slightly off the court. With about four minutes to play, Howard chased a loose ball and landed in the laps of some of the front-row spectators. He spilled some of their beers and caused a two-minute delay as the court was wiped off.

"I think those fans enjoyed that, and hopefully, they'll come back for me," Howard said.

Pint-sized point guard Earl Boykins helped mightily. The 5-foot-5 inch Boykins had nine of his 12 points in the fourth and three rebounds.

Karl blamed the loss on his team's refusal to share.

"We have a selfish disposition at times," he said. "Sometimes it might come from fatigue, sometimes it might come from complacency. Can't beat anybody with 12 assists. It's just a joke.

"We should be much more mature and understand that if that's the way we are going to try and beat people, we are going to have nights like tonight."

Notes

  • Denver F-C Chris Andersen missed the game with back spasms. Karl said he's day-to-day.
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas , acquired from Cleveland on Wednesday in the Jamison trade, reported to the Wizards, took his physical, but was inactive. Ilgauskas, reportedly seeking a buyout, will not travel to Toronto for Saturday's game against the Raptors.
  • Gilbert Arenas is suspended for the season for bringing guns to the locker room and isn't allowed to practice with the team, but one of his practice jerseys is hanging in his cubicle for the first time since the suspension. On Thursday, team president Ernie Grunfeld said Arenas would play again for Washington.
  • Howard denounced an ESPN.com report that while with Dallas, he'd missed a game against the Wizards on Jan. 20 with a hangover. "I'm not responding to a lie," he said.
  • Two nights after scoring a career-high 33 points, Wizards F Andray Blatche had 18 in the first half and was scoreless in the second half.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Al Thornton makes an impact with 21 points in his first game with the Wizards. (Getty Images)
Al Thornton makes an impact with 21 points in his first game with the Wizards. (Getty Images)
Scoreboard
Denver (36-19) 2535221597
Washington (19-33) «28242134107
DEN:C. Billups 28 Pts
DEN:Nene 9 Reb
DEN:T. Lawson 3 Ast
WAS:A. Thornton 21 Pts
WAS:A. Blatche 11 Reb
WAS:M. Miller 7 Ast
Players of the Game
WashingtonDenver

A. Blatche

C. Billups
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
181132832

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Denver
K. Martin, PF382-62-49236
A. Afflalo, SG374-80-05129
Nene, C365-77-891517
C. Billups, PG359-157-732328
C. Anthony, SF347-209-1471423
J. Smith, SG231-82-22144
M. Allen, PF222-40-04104
T. Lawson, PG152-42-21306
J. Graham, SFDid Not Play
J. Petro, CDid Not Play
C. Andersen, PFDid Not Play
R. Balkman, SFDid Not Play
A. Carter, PGDid Not Play
Totals 32-7229-3740122197
 44.4%78.4% 
Washington
A. Blatche, C288-132-2113418
M. Miller, SF251-63-43716
J. Howard, SF238-113-340420
J. McGee, C224-131-17029
R. Foye, PG201-60-00302
A. Thornton, SF327-127-951121
E. Boykins, PG284-114-445112
N. Young, SG235-90-021412
J. Singleton, SF202-52-29147
F. Oberto, C140-00-02130
Q. Ross, SG50-10-00010
M. James, PGDid Not Play
Z. Ilgauskas, CDid Not Play
Totals 40-8722-25472225107
 46.0%88.0% 
Other Games
SA 94 Final
Phi 106
Cle 93 Final
Char 110
Ind 101 Final
NO 107
Mil 91 Final
Det 85
Chi 100 Final
Min 94
Tor 106 Final
NJ 89
Dal 95 Final
Orl 85
Mia 100 Final
Mem 87
Atl 80 Final
Pho 88
Utah 100 Final
GS 89
Bos 96 Final
Port 76