The Wizards scored 124 points on 49 percent shooting against the league’s second-best defense, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their own defensive issues as they lost to the Jazz 128-124 on Friday evening.
Bradley Beal turned in another stellar performance, despite the Wizards getting eliminated from the playoffs the night before. After getting held to 15 points when they hosted the Jazz last week, he went off for 34 points in 39 minutes. In the process, he became the fourth player in franchise history to score 2,000 points in a single season, joining Gilbert Arenas, Earl Monroe, and Walt Bellamy.
Beal got much-needed support from the duo Washington picked up at the trade deadline. Washington needed their bigs to negate Rudy Gobert’s presence in the paint. Portis went 6-of-12 from deep and finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds. Parker added 15 off the bench and threw down several emphatic dunks to keep Utah from monopolizing the paint.
But for as well as Washington played offensively, they couldn’t make it count with stops on the other end. Utah shot 55.2 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from deep, and went a perfect 18-of-18 from the field to counteract one of Washington’s best offensive performances of the season. Nine of the eleven Jazz players who took shots in the game made at least half of them. The only two who didn’t were Ricky Rubio, who was 7-of-16 from the field, and Kyle Korver who went 1-for-6 despite several open looks.
The Jazz exploited the Wizards’ longstanding issues with perimeter defense throughout the game. Donovan Mitchell’s penetration led to easy opportunities for himself and others on the way to 35 points on 23 shots and 5 assists. When Washington got in Mitchell’s way, Joe Ingles stepped in and picked Washington apart with his outside shooting and precision passing, as he finished with 18 points and 10 assists.
The Wizards deserve a lot of credit for putting together a competitive effort in Utah, where the Jazz are 26-12 this season. What’s even more impressive is Washington missed out on several opportunities to take the lead and steal momentum in the closing minutes, even though Beal only scored 3 points in the fourth quarter.
Troy Brown Jr. missed an and-one free throw with under four minutes left that would have put Washington out in front. Two minutes later, Portis missed an open three that would have put Washington on top. On the ensuing possession, he was called for an offensive foul while setting a screen that shut the door on Washington’s comeback.
Come on guys
Look, I get that the Wizards want to be respectable even though they’ve been eliminated from playoff contention. I also get that Beal is a gamer that wants to go out there and give it his best, no matter what the situation is. These are honorable qualities.
Learning how to compromise is also an honorable quality. Washington has to figure out a way to dial Beal’s playing time back now that there’s nothing left to play for this season. Playing Beal 39 minutes in a game that doesn’t help Washington meet any franchise objectives is just senseless.
Jabari keeps it fun
JABARI CONQUERS THE FRENCHMAN pic.twitter.com/t4AZW8P8ze— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) March 30, 2019
Next up: The Wizards (31-46) head to the Mile High City to face the Nuggets (51-24) on Sunday evening at 8 pm Eastern Time.