Utah Jazz v Washington Wizards
WASHINGTON, DC -  JANUARY 12: on January 12, 2020 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Beal scores 25 in return, Wizards fall 127-116 to Jazz

Bradley Beal scored a team-high 25 points in his first game since January 1, but the Wizards (13-26) were defeated 127-116 by the Utah Jazz (27-12) Sunday afternoon at Capital One Arena. Beal had missed the last five games with lower right leg soreness.

“It felt good,” Beal said. “The biggest thing is just being out there with my teammates. Just being able to get a rhythm, get up and down. (It) felt good for sure.”

Beal hit his first two shots and scored eight of the team’s first 12 points, but the Wizards fell behind early. Trailing by five, the Wizards closed the first quarter on a 26-10 run and led 34-23 heading into the second. As a team, the Wizards shot 16-25 (.640) from the field, but missed their only 3-point field goal attempt in the first quarter, becoming the first team this season to score 34 points or more in the first quarter without hitting a 3-pointer. The Wizards stayed hot in the second quarter, opening their lead up to as many as 15, but the Jazz matched Washington’s production thanks to a combined 24 points from Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles. Bogdanovic went on to finish with a game-high 31 points on 12-23 (.521) shooting.

Beal wasn’t the only Wizards player to make his return to the lineup. Thomas Bryant, who hadn’t played since December 1 while recovering from a right foot stress reaction, scored eight points on 4-6 (.667) shooting in 15 minutes off the bench. Beal and Bryant joined Davis Bertans, who returned Friday against Atlanta, in reinforcing a Wizards’ rotation that has been shorthanded for weeks.

“I’ve been working hard since this injury,” Bryant said. “Literally the next day I’m trying to condition on the bike and trying to get my body right. For me to be able to come out and play for my teammates today felt great. For them to accept me from the start felt great as well.”

Early on in what was a back-and-forth third quarter, Bogdanovic scored a quick five points to cut the Washington lead down to six. The Wizards answered with a 9-0 run, led by five points from Beal, to retake the 15-point advantage. Just three and a half minutes later, Utah tied the game at 77 after a 15-0 run with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.

“We came out and we scored quick,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “I think to go up 13 [points] and then after that it was we got them into the bonus quickly. I think they were in the bonus like at the seven-and-a-half, eight-minute mark of that third quarter. We were just fouling too much. The game was different from the first half than in the second half but they had a couple of hot players. [Jordan] Clarkson always seems to be a guy that we have trouble staying in front of and he proved it again tonight. We have to do a better job of defending them.”

Down by two entering the fourth, the Wizards against went cold from deep, hitting just 1-7 (.143) from beyond the arc in the game’s final 12 minutes. Down 11 with 6:25 left in the game, the Wizards made one last push, a 10-2 run to cut the lead down the three with 3:32 on the clock. The teams traded buckets over the next couple minutes, including a 90-second sequence that featured a Rudy Gobert dunk, a Beal layup and Ingles and Bertans threes on consecutive possessions. The Wizards finally got a stop to end the run, but a Gobert offensive rebound and put-back dunk put Washington back in a seven-point hole they were unable to overcome.

The Wizards bench, which has been among the league’s best all season, helped carry the load over the last month with over seven players out of the lineup at a time. With Beal, Bryant and Bertans all back in action and the team’s depth somewhat replenished, the reserves kept up their production. Washington’s bench combined for 59 points, led by 18 points from Bertans and 16 points from Jordan McRae.

The Wizards have two days off before a two-game road trip featuring matchups against the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors. The Wizards take on Chicago on Wednesday at 8:00 P.M. and Toronto on Friday at 7:00 P.M. before returning to D.C. to face the Pistons next Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at 2:00 P.M.


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