WASHINGTON (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis had 31 points and 10 rebounds, Kyle Kuzma added 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and the Washington Wizards beat the Utah Jazz 121-112 on Saturday night for their season-high third straight victory.
Corey Kispert hit all six of his field goals, four of them 3-pointers, and scored 18 points. The Wizards played their fourth consecutive game without leading scorer Bradley Beal, who had been in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
“I think we were better at making that extra pass, that extra play for the teammate,” Porzingis said. “It’s starting to click a little bit.”
Jordan Clarkson had 18 points for Utah (10-4), which had a four-game winning streak broken. Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen each had 17.
The Wizards (7-6) scored 16 straight points to close the first half and open the second, taking a 65-55 lead early in the third quarter. The Jazz cut the lead to 104-98 with 6:29 to play but couldn’t get any closer.
“We lost the game with our (lack of) defensive intensity,” Utah coach Will Hardy said. “The team defense tonight was not there.”
Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. pointed out the Jazz struggled in the paint and in transition.
“Our two biggest strengths tonight were there two biggest weaknesses.”
Jazz: G Malik Beasley was able to witness the birth of a baby since Utah’s last game on Wednesday in Atlanta. “The travel schedule in the NBA sometimes puts a lot of people in some weird situations as it relates to family,” Hardy said. “Got some great timing with that one to be able to be with his wife for that moment. We were happy that he got to go home and we’re happy that he’s back.” … G Talen Horton-Tucker had 12 points and a season-high 10 assists in 17 minutes. … Beasley had 16 points.
Wizards: Unseld said that he doesn’t expect Beal to play on Sunday. “He’s out of protocol, which is a positive. He’s missed five or six days, so there’s some concern with his conditioning. He’s going to work out and get a ramp up before we throw him out there.” … Porzingis returned after missing Thursday’s game against Dallas with a strained left groin.
LACK OF D
Hardy credited the Wizards with allowing his team to lose its intensity on defense.
“They played great and we did not help ourselves on the defensive end with our communication, our aggressive, guarding the ball, helping our teammates.”
Porzingis agreed with Hardy.
“They probably played with more energy some other games,” Porzingis said. “Some of it us just playing the right way and having good rhythm.”
WINNING WITHOUT BEAL: Kispert felt it was important that Washington has won three straight without Beal.
“It’s huge. Everybody knows that he’s our best player,” Kispert said. “He’s the head of the snake. Not only to weather the storm, but to put together a winning streak when he’s out is huge. We were struggling for a little bit, and playing games like that will only make us better because injuries happen. When Brad goes out, God forbid, we’ve got to be able to play well.”
Jazz: Visit 76ers on Sunday
Wizards: Host Grizzlies on Sunday
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