SALT LAKE CITY (AP)Malik Beasley scored 25 points and Jordan Clarkson added 23 to power the Utah Jazz past the reeling Washington Wizards 120-112 on Thursday night.
”I was attacking the hole and not settling for 3s,” Beasley said. ”I think there are some times where I get complacent so I got to keep attacking downhill.”
Beasley made six shots from inside the arc. He usually gets most of his points from beyond it.
Lauri Markkanen had 21 points and Collin Sexton returned from missing seven games with a right hamstring injury to finish with 18 while playing just 17 minutes due to a medical minutes restriction.
”We knew the kind of energy he would bring and he’s going to fire up everybody else up as well,” Markkanen said of Sexton’s return.
Bradley Beal scored 30 points and Kyle Kuzma had 21, but the Wizards lost for the 14th time in their last 16 games.
Beal scored Washington’s first 12 points of the fourth quarter but the Wizards couldn’t stop the Jazz. The Wizards fell to 2-8 when Beal, who didn’t have a 3-pointer, is their leading scorer.
”They were geared to get into Brad and make him play inside the line, tried to pressure his dribble,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.
The Jazz scored 13 consecutive points bridging the third and fourth quarters, highlighted by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Sexton and capped by Nickeil Walker-Alexander’s 3 off an offensive rebound.
”It was all about pushing the ball and getting stops. When we are running, we are at our best. When we have numbers, anybody can knock the shot down,” Sexton said.
The surge resulted in the first double-digit lead by either team after 23 lead changes and 11 ties. The span was bolstered by tight defense and increased effort after three quarters of little resistance by the Jazz.
”The guys buckled down and really committed to that end,” Utah coach Will Hardy said.
The Wizards had lost 10 straight games before winning at Phoenix on Tuesday. Their defensive deficiencies returned as they allowed the Jazz to make 16-of-35 3-pointers, many of which were wide open due to slow rotations and weak closeouts.
Second-leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis missed his second game with a non-COVID illness but the Wizards still shot 56% from the field.
”Even when we were healthy, we were .500,” Kuzma said, not making excuses for the Wizards’ poor health.
Corey Kispert made a halfcourt shot at the last second to put the Wizards up 66-60. Due to a clock malfunction – the time kept running – the teams had to replay 0.4 seconds of the second quarter after halftime.
WHAT ABOUT THE DEFENSE?
Even with Beasley’s 25 points as a reserve, the team was talking about his work on the defensive end.
”Malik did a great job of recognizing the times to fan back out to the shooters and it ended getting him some steals. It’s something we work on a lot,” Hardy said.
Beasley had four steals and forced some poor shots by the Wizards.
”It was about being in the right spots . and keeping my hands active, knowing which guys are going to pass the ball and which guys won’t,” Beasley said.
Wizards: Washington was called for goaltending on three shots in the first quarter. . Deni Avdija sat out with a sore back after playing in 114 consecutive games. . The Wizards went 17 for 24 in the second quarter and had 19 fast-break points to 3 for Utah in the first half.
Jazz: Kelly Olynyk missed his third game with a sprained left ankle. . Utah scored on nine straight possessions in the third quarter. . Walker Kessler had 12 points and 14 rebounds. . Utah went 20 for 21 from the free throw line.
Wizards: Visit Sacramento on Friday.
Jazz: Visit San Antonio on Monday.