SportsWilliam J. Ford

Jazz Bury Slumping Wizards

It was a tale of two teams.

The Utah Jazz came into D.C. Monday winners of three straight games and in seventh place in the Western Conference as the regular season enters its home stretch.

The up-and-down Washington Wizards, meanwhile, are likely headed to the lottery.

The Jazz (41-29) safely secured its playoff position in the Western Conference and fourth consecutive win after a 116-95 blowout victory against the Wizards before a not-so-happy crowd at Capital One Arena in northwest D.C.

Washington (30-41) isn’t mathematically eliminated, but the team sits in 11th place behind Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat with just 11 games left in the regular season.

“It’s just has to be a one-day-at-a-time approach,” said Wizards backup point guard Chasson Randle, who scored five points in less than nine minutes of action. “We have to make sure we do the little things and try to continue to control what we can control.”

Unfortunately, the Wizards couldn’t control Utah’s offensive execution. The ball movement and shot selection helped Utah pull away in the second half, with the lead ballooning to as much as 24 late in the third quarter.

The Jazz recorded 35 assists on 49 made field goals. In comparison, the Wizards dished out 20 assists on 34 made field goals.

Utah center Rudy Gobert, named Western Conference Player of the Week earlier in the day, scored 14 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and two blocked shots. He helped the Jazz to outrebound Washington 41-34.

Utah, which ranks third in blocked shots at nearly six per game, swatted eight Wizards shot attempts Monday.

Washington closed the deficit to 67-58 at the 8:50 mark of third quarter, but Utah finished the quarter on a 24-13 run and were never truly threatened again.

Utah shooting guard Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 19 points on 8-for-18 shooting. Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio scored eight points along with 10 assists, but committed six of Utah’s 17 turnovers.

Wizards forward Jabari Parker led the Wizards in scoring with 19 points off the bench, but also had five of the team’s 16 turnovers.

Wizards All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal, who received Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors Monday, scored 15 points after two consecutive 40-point efforts.

Beal acknowledged he hasn’t had a team defend him the way Utah did Monday — either face-guarding or double-teaming him the entire game — since high school.

“You have to work hard to get open,” he said. “As soon as [a teammate] shot the ball, I couldn’t even run to the corner without one guy on me, or possibly two.”

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said Gobert altered several shots, but the team also missed shots shooting 34-of-81, or 42 percent, from the floor. The team went 8-for-27, or 30 percent, from the 3-point line.

“We missed a lot of good-looking threes,” he said. “That’s the way it is. Unfortunately, we didn’t make them tonight. Hopefully we bounce back in a couple of nights [at the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday].”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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