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An empty 40: Wizards fall to Jazz despite another big game from Bradley Beal

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell drives past the Wizards’ Thomas Bryant during Friday night’s game in Salt Lake City.
Utah’s Donovan Mitchell drives past the Wizards’ Thomas Bryant during Friday night’s game in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Bradley Beal did everything in his power to steer the Washington Wizards to a rare road win over the Utah Jazz. He hit shots from all over the floor and consistently found open teammates, reaching double ­figures in assists.

And yet, in what has become a trend for the Wizards since the all-star break, it wasn't enough. The Jazz opened a ­double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter and held off Washington, 129-119, despite Beal reaching the 40-point mark for the 10th time this season.

Beal finished with 42 points on 17-for-33 shooting and added 10 assists — his sixth time in double digits — but the Wizards dropped their ninth straight game against the Jazz.

It just makes you want to play that much more and better when you got a guy like him that’s an all-star and plays at an unbelievable level that he’s doing right now,” said forward Thomas Bryant, who had 16 points off the bench. “It’s absolutely amazing. You want to rise to the occasion with him.”

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Rui Hachimura added 15 points and seven rebounds as the Wizards (21-37) lost for the fourth time in five games.

Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and collected eight rebounds to lead Utah (37-22). Jordan Clarkson added 20 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Former Wizards player Bojan Bogdanovic added 21 points and Mike Conley chipped in 16 points and six assists to help the Jazz snap a four-game losing streak.

Washington allowed Utah to shoot 51.4 percent from three-point range and 49.4 percent overall. It offset a decent night for the Wizards’ offense, which shot 45.9 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from beyond the arc.

The wheels came off for the Wizards late in the third quarter. After Troy Brown Jr. made a three-pointer to cut Utah’s lead to 82-81 with 2:08 left, the Jazz ripped off an 18-4 run to take control. Clarkson ignited the decisive spurt with back-to-back baskets. Conley finished it with a three-pointer that put Utah up 100-85 with 9:03 to go in the fourth.

“I thought we battled, but that third quarter, once again, was a problem,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said. “We got to figure that out. . . . We got to make layups. We got to get stops.”

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Still, Washington did not go quietly: Beal made a critical three-pointer to cut the deficit to 104-101 with 5:18 left. The comeback stalled for a familiar reason — the Wizards’ inability to get stops. Mitchell scored three baskets down the stretch, hit a pair of free throws and assisted on a Royce O’Neale three-pointer to help the Jazz regain control with a 119-106 lead with 3:18 remaining.

“There were times where they showed more physicality when the game was getting close,” Brooks said. “We didn’t match it.”

After forcing 11 turnovers (and scoring 14 points off them) in the first half, Washington could not pressure the Jazz and get into passing lanes as effectively after halftime. Utah had just four turnovers in the second half.

“In the first half, we did a really good job of defending,” Beal said. “I think on both ends we were really good. This is a good team. They’re going to take care of the ball. . . . I think we kind of let their run get out of hand a little bit.”

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The Jazz also dominated the Wizards on the glass, finishing with a 54-41 rebounding advantage, a key factor in Utah’s 20 second-chance points.

Ball security played a crucial role for the Wizards early on. Washington did not commit a turnover during the first quarter. Defensively, the Wizards forced seven giveaways and generated nine points off them — including a steal and dunk from Hachimura that put Washington up 24-20 late in the quarter.

The Jazz countered by burying one outside basket after another. Utah made six of its first seven three-point attempts, scoring four outside baskets over eight possessions at one point, and it grabbed a 31-28 lead at the end of the quarter. Tony Bradley ignited the run with the first three-pointer of his NBA career.

Beal put the Wizards’ offense on his shoulders at critical junctures during the first half. He scored or assisted on 15 of Washington’s 24 baskets before halftime and scored 23 points over the first 24 minutes. In the final minute, Beal had back-to-back three-pointers that put the Wizards ahead 60-58 going into the locker room.

But ultimately, Beal’s performance was not enough.

“They just wanted it more than we did,” he said.

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