The Washington Wizards couldn’t get a handle on Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward and couldn’t get a break from officials, losing 102-92 to the Utah Jazz at Verizon Center Sunday, the team’s second straight loss following the All-Star break.
Hayward, fresh off his first All-Star Game appearance, had 30 points and nine rebounds and hit several key shots down the stretch to stave off a late Wizards rally.
Washington, which had won 18 of their last 21 games before the break, couldn’t keep Utah off the foul line early, as the Jazz converted 13 of 18 free throws in the first half. Conversely, the Wizards only attempted one first-half free throw.
“It’s frustrating,” said Wizards guard John Wall, who recorded his 37th double-double with 23 points and 11 assists. “You keep attacking the basket and no guys getting calls on the other end. It tough being in the game when somebody is shooting 20 free throws to one. [The officials] didn’t make the calls. I’ll leave it at that.”
Wall and forward Markieff Morris both received technical fouls, with Morris picking up his tech after fouling out in the fourth quarter, which also resulted in his ejection.
“Refs in their feelings. It’s like that all the time,” Morris, who had seven points and three rebounds, said when asked why he was tossed. “We can’t worry about the referees. All we can ask is for them to do their job to the best of their capabilities. …We had a bad game and they had a bad game. It is what it is.”
The Wizards (34-23) were pounded on the boards 52-27, as Jazz center Rudy Gobert grabbed 20 along with 15 points and four blocks. Utah (37-22), which gives up a league-low 95.6 points per game, also recorded a season-high 11 blocks to the Wizards’ one.
The Wizards’ first half output of 39 points marked the team’s lowest this season.
“Physicality — they had it, we did not,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. “We let them run their offense without any resistance. When you do that, they’re going to score some points on you.”
The Wizards, which trailed by as many as 24 midway through the third quarter, got at close as 95-89 with two minutes left in the game, but Hayward hit two straight jumpers to seal the victory.
“[Haywood] got an offensive rebound that we should have boxed out on and he scores there,” Wall said. “We had opportunities thought. We just didn’t convert.”
Washington will host the league-leading Golden State Warriors (49-9) and Prince George’s County native Kevin Durant Tuesday.