DENVER – Gary Harris isn’t putting up big scoring numbers. It’s the guard’s defense that has spearheaded the Denver Nuggets’ rise to the top of the Western Conference.
After another shutdown night, Harris’ teammates are campaigning for him to be on the NBA’s all-defensive team.
“We’re not joking around with first team,” Jamal Murray said. “He’s been showing it. Not just one game, not just two games, but all season long.”
Harris held Washington guard Bradley Beal to a season-low 14 points, Nikola Jokic had a season-high 20 rebounds and Jerami Grant added a season-best 20 points to lead the Nuggets to a 117-104 win over the Wizards on Tuesday night.
Washington rookie Rui Hachimura shot 3 of 10 and finished with seven points. The Japanese star grabbed four rebounds and had two assists.
Jokic finished one rebound shy of his career best and scored eight points in Denver’s sixth straight win.
Will Barton had 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Murray added 16 points and Mason Plumlee scored 15 for the Nuggets, who are 10-1 in November and ended a three-game home losing streak against Washington.
Beal, the Wizards’ leading scorer averaging 29.6 points, failed to score 20 points for the first time this season and was held to 6-for-15 shooting. He was 2 of 10 from behind the 3-point line.
“Anytime you can manage the best player on the other team, you start with that,” Plumlee said. “Brad Beal’s a heck of a player and he didn’t get 20, 30 points.”
It is a familiar theme when the Nuggets face an elite guard. Houston’s James Harden scored just 27 points, 10 below his season average, and Devin Booker had just 12 when Phoenix was in Denver on Sunday night.
“That’s all Gary,” Grant said. “He’s locking everybody up this year. He’s shutting everyone down.”
Denver held one of the NBA’s prolific offenses to its second-fewest point total of the season. Washington entered the game averaging 119.1 points and had failed to score at least 100 points just once in 15 games. It needed 35 in the fourth to reach 100 this time.
Jordan McRae had 21 points and Moritz Wagner and Davis Bertans each finished with 14.
Clippers 114, Mavericks 99
In Dallas, Paul George scored 17 of his 26 points in the first quarter, Kawhi Leonard finished with 28 and Los Angeles Clippers took control early in a meeting of teams with matching five-game winning streaks.
The Clippers used several defenders to end Luka Doncic’s franchise-record streak of four games with at least 30 points and 10 assists, knocking the 20-year-old phenom to the floor early on a 4-of-14 shooting night. Doncic had 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Kristaps Porzingis was 4 of 13, with the Latvian combining with the Rookie of the Year from Slovenia to go 8 of 27 compared to 19 of 42 for the LA stars. George added a career-high six steals to help hold the Mavericks under 100 points for the first time this season.
“They’re looking to win a championship; they played like it was a playoff game,” said Porzingis, who hit a 3-pointer 22 seconds into the game and another 3-pointer from the logo at center court just before halftime but finished 3 of 8 from long range. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“They played aggressively and they showed us that we have to learn how to play these games. We have to bring that same intensity.”