Mitchell powers Jazz to 128-124 win over Wizards
by JOHN COON, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An eye injury forced Donovan Mitchell to spend much of the first quarter in the locker room. His vision seemed better than ever when he returned.
Mitchell scored 35 points made many more big plays to lead the Utah Jazz to a 128-124 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
“I thought he attacked and that’s what we needed him to do,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
Mitchell offered a snapshot of what he would do all night during the second quarter. After checking back into the game, he hit all six of his shots and scored 14 points in the quarter to keep Utah a step ahead of Washington before halftime.
“I could see well enough to shoot,” Mitchell joked. “I could see. I was fine. Just got to play through things.”
Joe Ingles added 18 points and 10 assists for the Jazz, while Rudy Gobert finished with 13 points and 17 rebounds. Jae Crowder added 18 points and Ricky Rubio chipped in 17. Utah shot 55 percent from the field to win for the ninth time in 10 games.
Bradley Beal scored 34 points and Bobby Portis added 28 points and 13 rebounds for Washington. Thomas Bryant had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Wizards had 32 assists on 48 baskets. It wasn’t quite enough to complete a late rally because Washington couldn’t slow down Utah’s offense either.
“Ever since the All-Star break, we’ve been top five or better in scoring and offense period,” Beal said. “That’s never been our problem. It’s being able to guard and get stops when we need to.”
The Jazz seemed to be on the verge of breaking open the game after going on an 11-0 run in the third quarter. Mitchell and Royce O’Neale each scored back-to-back baskets to give Utah a 92-77 lead. Washington answered with a 13-0 run to end the quarter — capped by a 40-foot buzzer-beater from Jordan McRae — and cut the deficit to 92-90.
The Wizards kept chipping away and finally took a 116-114 lead on Beal’s dunk off a Jazz turnover. Utah surged back in front 120-116 with back-to-back baskets from Gobert and Rubio.
Washington cut it to 126-124 on a 3-pointer from Jabari Parker with 9.2 seconds left. Mitchell iced the win with a pair of free throws.
“Turnovers really hurt us,” Gobert said. “We did a pretty good job running back, but running back off turnovers or bad shots is a lot harder. We had a few more of those than we usually do. It gave them life. It gave them confidence.”
Utah used a 19-4 run to stake out a 41-30 lead early in the second quarter. Ingles scored three baskets to fuel the run, including a step-back jumper at the end of the first quarter.
The Jazz led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, going up 61-46 on a reverse dunk from Thabo Sefolosha. Mitchell fueled much of the offense during the quarter after returning to action following his eye injury.
Beal and Portis combined for five straight baskets late in the second quarter to cut Utah’s lead to 63-59. Rubio and Ingles answered with three straight baskets to prevent the Wizards from making it a one-possession game.
NO REST FOR BEAL
Beal played in and started his 159th consecutive regular season game. With just five games remaining for the Wizards, he is closing on back-to-back seasons of playing 82 games.
There was some speculation before Friday that the Wizards would sit Beal against the Jazz to rest him. Beal instead played 39 minutes and scored at least 30 points for the eighth time in the last 12 road games. He is averaging 30.5 points away from home since the All-Star break.
Washington coach Scott Brooks denied any plan to rest Beal is in the works for remaining games going forward.
“I just know Brad loves to play,” Brooks said. “I understand load management as well as anybody, but I also appreciate guys that want to play. We all only get to play the game for so many years.”
FREE THROW DISPARITY
The Jazz finished 18 of 18 from the free throw line, the third-most free throws made without a miss in a home game in franchise history.
The Wizards went 13 of 22 from the free throw line. Five of those misses came in the fourth quarter.
“I put that on my shoulders,” said Beal, who went 6 of 10 from the line. “Missing those free throws is unacceptable. I make those and, best case, we could be tied and going to overtime.”
Wizards: Beal had his 24th 30-point game of the season. . Bryant grabbed at least 10 rebounds for the third time in four games and had his 12th double-double of the season. Portis also had his 12th double-double. . Washington scored 20 points off 18 Utah turnovers.
Jazz: Derrick Favors did not play after first quarter because of back spasms. Favors finished with six points and three rebounds in nine minutes. . Ingles has tallied 10 or more assists in back-to-back games for the second time this season. . Utah is 31-0 in its last 31 home games when shooting at least 50 percent from the field.
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