Troy Brown shines in first career start, but Wizards fall to Nuggets

March 22, 2019

Troy Brown found out secondhand he was starting his first NBA career game.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks broke the news Thursday that the 19-year-old rookie would be starting in place of an injured Trevor Ariza before getting a chance to tell Brown himself.

He took advantage of the opportunity. But it wasn’t enough.

The Wizards dropped their third straight Thursday with a 113-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Brown had 13 points, five rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes, though Washington fell to one of the Western Conference’s top teams.

Washington almost pulled off a fourth-quarter upset behind star Bradley Beal, only for Denver to hold on.

The Wizards were coming off an overtime loss Wednesday to the Chicago Bulls, which left players frustrated. Beal ripped his teammates afterward telling reporters “we just didn’t want to win.”

Before Thursday’s game, Brooks said he understood Beal’s anger.

“If your leader is not frustrated after another tough loss, then you’re in a tough position,” Brooks said.

Wednesday’s defeat led Brooks to tweak his starting lineup prior to tipoff. In addition to Brown, he also swapped veteran Jeff Green for center Thomas Bryant which moved Bobby Portis to the 4.Until Thursday, Portis and Bryant had logged only five minutes together, so how they would fit together was largely a mystery.

At first, the pairing had success.

Washington got off to a quick start, rushing out to a 16-8 start behind Thomas’ energy and Portis’ shotmaking.

The lead didn’t last. Denver’s second-unit swung the quarter and the Nuggets remained in firm control in the second. They went into halftime with a 61-53 lead.

The Wizards, though, gained ground in the third playing with an urgency that reflected a team desperate to make the playoffs.

With 6:13 left in the quarter, Washington retook the lead off a Brown and-1. The 19-year-old fueled a 17-3 run that saw Washington go up, 82-75.

But the game changed again after another strong push from Denver’s bench to take back control.