Washington improved to 32-46 by knocking off one of the best teams in the Western Conference and closed its last extended road trip of the season 2-2.
For the second straight game in his rookie season, Brown notched a career high; this time he had 24 points, a game high. Brown looks to close the season as the starting small forward, and against Denver (51-25) he logged another career best with 42 minutes while bringing the ball up and looking for his shot as Washington closed out the Nuggets.
With 6:08 remaining, Brown confidently elevated for his fifth three-point attempt of the game. And just like the previous four, it was true. The shot gave Washington an 86-82 lead, an advantage it maintained until the end.
“I felt like it was kind of rolling out of last game,” said Brown, who scored a previous career-best 15 points Friday night at Utah. “So coming off of that, today I felt confident.”
Brown ultimately made 5 of 7 three-point tries while the rest of the Wizards went 1 for 17.
“I went through a little period of not hitting a lot of shots,” he said. “It was kind of tough for me, but I just kept the same routine. I just have to believe in my shot and play with confidence. Now I see what I’m capable of, so hopefully it will all roll over.”
The Wizards thrived with 58 points in the paint, dwarfing Denver’s output (46) as Parker led the interior attack. Parker, whose 6-foot-8, 245-pound frame belies his athleticism, stayed in the lane for dunks and cutting layups. Five of his eight field goals came within the restricted circle as he poured in 20 points.
“Offensively, he’s pretty dynamic,” Coach Scott Brooks said before the game. “When he goes downhill, he’s explosive and he gets above the rim and isn’t really concerned [with] who’s in the front of him. He’s got the speed of a smaller guy up and down the court.”
This July, Parker’s contract has a $20 million team option. If the Wizards decline it, he will be an unrestricted free agent.
Bryant, another potential free agent, led an effective bench that propelled the Wizards to a 30-point second quarter. Bryant also was on the floor in the final quarter, outlasting all-star Nikola Jokic.
Bobby Portis had his moments against Jokic — giving the center a bloody nose after slapping his face on a play at the rim and later leaping on him for a piggyback ride while drawing a foul.
“Man, I just held on to him. I didn’t want to fall,” Portis said, explaining the play. “If I fell, he was going to fall with me. I just held on to him, just trying to bring some physicality to the game.”
Bryant was the catalyst for Jokic’s early departure.
While being defended by Bryant with 3:47 remaining, Jokic cut the Wizards’ lead to two. After his layup, Jokic got in the face of official James Capers and complained about contact from Bryant. Jokic’s outcry drew his second technical foul — and an automatic ejection. Bryant applauded and gestured toward the locker room, telling everyone at Pepsi Center where Jokic was heading.
“Obviously, I think our physicality — [it didn’t] bother him, but it kind of got under his skin a little bit,” Portis said. “I think the refs did a great job of letting us go out there and be physical with each other and just letting us go out there and bang.”
Jokic finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but Bryant matched his rebounding total as he got 20 points — and the last laugh.