Denver, CO – John Wall had 19 points and 16 assists as the visiting Washington Wizards outlasted the reeling Denver Nuggets in overtime 117-115 Sunday night.

The Nuggets looked much better Sunday than they did in their loss to Boston earlier in the weekend, though Washington, playing their second game in 24 hours, matched Denver’s energy throughout the evening. Still, the Nuggets got good effort across the board, especially from forward Wilson Chandler, who finished with 20 points. Chandler also took advantage of the Wizards going small for much of the second half and snatched down 9 rebounds.

The return of point guard Ty Lawson – who missed the Boston game for personal reasons after a DUI incident – definitely helped Denver get on a roll. Lawson finished the night with 31 points and 12 assists and took over at times for the Nuggets – in particular a seven-point run in the fourth quarter that kept Denver in the game.

They needed Lawson to take over, because the Wizards basically got whatever they wanted in the paint. The Nuggets went small for most of the second half, with some combination of Darrell Arthur, J.J. Hickson, and Kenneth Faried down low. The Wizards outscored Denver 56-36 in the paint as rookie center Jusuf Nurkic only played 19 minutes.

“You take a big guy out, you take away maybe more shot-blocking ability,” said head coach Brian Shaw. “But what you hope for with smaller, more agile guys is that they don’t get into the paint in the first place. I felt like the activity of Darrell and Kenneth – their activity and athleticism, we’d be better served having those guys out there on the floor.”

The sequence that sent the game into overtime was pretty wild – with the score tied at 105 apiece, John Wall was stripped by Lawson, who got the ball to Faried on the break. Faried got fouled, but missed both free throws, giving the last shot to Washington. Faried redeemed himself though by blocking Paul Pierce’s potential game-winning step-back to send the game to OT.

“Free throws are important in close games,” said Shaw. “But that’s not what lost us the game.”

The Wizards got up early in overtime thanks to Wall and Kris Humphries, but the Nuggets managed to close the gap. A Chandler three left the Nuggets down two with just three seconds remaining, and Pierce threw the inbound pass right into Lawson’s arms – Lawson seemed shocked to be so wide open with a chance to send the game into a second-OT, and his jumper looked rushed and fell short.

The loss is Denver’s sixth straight and the team now embarks on a three-game road trip to take on the Clippers, the Pelicans, and the Grizzlies. It’s a tough stretch of games, and it seems fair to wonder how long the Nuggets can go on like this, especially if their losing streak reaches double-digits.

Zach Marburger is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BurchBurger.

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