Well, as usual these days, the Utah Jazz were involved in a defense affair with yet another playoff team. This time around, the Washington Wizards were at Energy Solutions Arena to experience what the Jazz, winners of 6 straight coming into the game and the hottest team in the league, were all about. Thing is: The Wizards were more than willing to play along, combating Utah’s defense by just allowing the Jazz to shoot 41.5% from the field, including 4/22 on three pointers and a dismal 12/24 from the free throw line, which obviously proved costly, as the Jazz lose on Wednesday night to Washington, 88-84.
The Jazz were down 42-40 going into the half, but a quick start in the third quarter put the Jazz in front 50-45 with 8:32 to go in the third quarter. Then John Wall and Paul Pierce happened! Over the next 6:11, the Wizards went on an 18-4 run, Wall contributing 10 and Pierce 8 points of his own during that span. The Wizards tandem scored the last 20 of 22 third quarter points, taking a 67-61 lead into the fourth quarter.
Despite the off night shooting for the Jazz, there were a couple things that helped. For instance, how clean the Jazz played. Only turning the ball over 9 times, to the Wizards 21 turnovers. The Jazz also had a lot of extra chances compared to Washington, getting 19 more shots, but only making one more bucket compared to the Wizards.
There just is no quit in this Jazz team though. With under two minutes to go, the Jazz were trailing by six, 84-78, but crawled back within two points, after a pair of free throws by Gordon Hayward, who finished the game with a game high 26 points. Hayward had a chance to possibly cut the lead to one, but fell inches short after Bradley Beal fouled Hayward on a jumper and settled for the automatic two.
Pierce and Wall closed out the game, making two free throws a piece, to solidify and beat the Jazz, but not before Hayward had a chance to take the lead. After Hayward scored on an alley-oop inbound pass from Joe Ingles,(in what seemed like a missed five second call) Pierce threw his inbound pass to Wall, who bobbled and lost the ball out of bounds. Hayward then got the ball the next play, squared up just behind the three point line, but missed and Wall came up with the rebound and the game clinching free throws.
With the loss, the Jazz fall to 30-37 and will next play the Los Angeles Lakers from the Staples Center on Thursday night… The Lakers are 17-49, coming off a loss to Golden State on Monday, but the last time Utah and L.A. played was on February 25th and the Lakers beat the Jazz 100-97. 8:30 tip time.