SALT LAKE CITY — Putting the ball in the basket was not an issue for the Washington Wizards for most of Thursday night, but keeping the Utah Jazz from doing so sure was.
The Wizards’ strong shooting night didn’t feature enough stops on the other end as the Jazz prevailed, 120-112, to hand Washington its 14th loss in 16 games.
After snapping their 10-game skid Tuesday in Phoenix, the Wizards put together a strong first half. And for the game, they shot 56.1 percent — not far off their season-best mark of 57.7 in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 2. Bradley Beal (30 points) and Kyle Kuzma (21) continued to do the heavy lifting with Kristaps Porzingis (non-covid illness) missing a second consecutive game, but Utah made 16 three-pointers.
Washington (12-21) and Utah (19-16) went back and forth for most of the night, but the Jazz put together a run that spanned the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth that put the Wizards in an 11-point hole. Washington never recovered as its deficit grew to 16; an offense that was humming for three quarters went cold at the worst time.
Utah’s Jordan Clarkson was a problem throughout, making a variety of tough shots as he scored 23 points. Malik Beasley finished with a team-high 25 off the bench, and Lauri Markkanen had 21. Collin Sexton added 18.
The Wizards led 66-60 at halftime after a hot-shooting half in which they got out in transition and were efficient in the paint. Beal had 14 second-quarter points after being held to two in the first. Jazz Coach Will Hardy said beforehand that he was worried about the Wizards’ transition game, and they had a 19-3 halftime edge in fast-break points. Washington added 32 points in the paint before the break, but Utah had the answer late.
Here’s what else to know about the Wizards’ loss:
Back but shorthanded
Wizards forward Rui Hachimura played for the first time since Nov. 18; he had been out with a bone bruise in his right ankle. He checked in with 5:06 left in the first quarter and got his first points on a three-point play. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. had him on a minutes restriction, and he finished with seven points in 24 minutes.
“I can help this team again,” Hachimura said. “And just the feeling — I can feel that everybody’s, like, waiting for me. We need some energy. I can bring that energy — defensively, offensively, rebounds, anything. I can help this team win.”
Porzingis remained out with an illness, but Unseld is hopeful he can play Friday at Sacramento.
Deni Avdija was ruled out after the morning shoot-around. He came down awkwardly and was diagnosed with lower-back soreness. Unseld called him day-to-day. Corey Kispert (12 points) and Daniel Gafford (13) started in place of Advija and Porzingis.
Delon Wright (right hamstring strain) remained out, but Unseld said the Wizards will evaluate him again Friday and he could play against the Kings.
Kuzma got a nice ovation at the start of the game as he returned to the city where he played in college. He and Wright were teammates at the University of Utah, and they sat courtside as the Utes lost to TCU on Wednesday.