WASHINGTON — Even without star player Bradley Beal on the floor, the Washington Wizards are starting to come together and play their best basketball of the young season, and a convincing win against the best team in the Western Conference to this point in the season is the best case that to make about where the Wizards are what what could lie in wait.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 31 points to lead five players scoring in double figures for Washington, who defeated the Utah Jazz 121-112 for its third straight victory. Kyle Kuzma scored 23 points while Corey Kispert scored 18 points, making all six of his attempts from the field — four of his shot coming from long range.
The Wizards played without Bradley Beal, who remains in the league’s health and safety protocols. After defeating the Hornets in Charlotte on Monday, the Wizards knew three straight home games against some of the best teams in the West awaited, starting with Thursday’s game against Dallas before the back-to-back games this weekend, including tomorrow’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
So far, the Wizards are 2-for-2.
“It’s huge. Everybody knows that [Beal’s] our best player. 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,” Kispert said, “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.”
The decisive moment of the game came between the second and third quarters, when the Wizards scored 16 consecutive points to turn a 55-49 deficit late in the second quarter into a 65-55 advantage early in the third. The closest the Jazz would get for the remainder of the game was six, at 104-98 with 6:29 left, but that was as close Utah got.
“We lost the game with our [lack of] defensive intensity,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “The team defense tonight was not there.”
Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points to lead Utah, who saw its four game winning streak snapped. Six players scored in double figures for the Jazz, as Lauri Markkanen and Coliln Sexton each scored 17.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Phillip Peters. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 29 pictures in total.