Washington Wizards 112, Utah Jazz 120
Head to Head: Utah Jazz, odds 1.38
Line: Utah Jazz (-6.5), odds 1.95
Total Points: Over (230.5), odds 1.93 - by 1.5!
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Malik Beasley scored 25 points and Jordan Clarkson added 23 to power the Utah Jazz past the reeling Washington Wizards 120-112 on Thursday night.
“I was attacking the hole and not settling for 3s,” Beasley said. “I think there are some times where I get complacent so I got to keep attacking downhill.”
Beasley made six shots from inside the arc. He usually gets most of his points from beyond it.
Lauri Markkanen had 21 points and Collin Sexton returned from missing seven games with a right hamstring injury to finish with 18 while playing just 17 minutes due to a medical minutes restriction.
“We knew the kind of energy he would bring and he’s going to fire up everybody else up as well,” Markkanen said of Sexton’s return.
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Bradley Beal scored 30 points and Kyle Kuzma had 21, but the Wizards lost for the 14th time in their last 16 games.
Beal scored Washington’s first 12 points of the fourth quarter but the Wizards couldn’t stop the Jazz. The Wizards fell to 2-8 when Beal, who didn't have a 3-pointer, is their leading scorer.
“They were geared to get into Brad and make him play inside the line, tried to pressure his dribble,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.
The Jazz scored 13 consecutive points bridging the third and fourth quarters, highlighted by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Sexton and capped by Nickeil Walker-Alexander’s 3 off an offensive rebound.
“It was all about pushing the ball and getting stops. When we are running, we are at our best. When we have numbers, anybody can knock the shot down,” Sexton said.
The surge resulted in the first double-digit lead by either team after 23 lead changes and 11 ties. The span was bolstered by tight defense and increased effort after three quarters of little resistance by the Jazz.
“The guys buckled down and really committed to that end,” Utah coach Will Hardy said.
The Wizards had lost 10 straight games before winning at Phoenix on Tuesday. Their defensive deficiencies returned as they allowed the Jazz to make 16-of-35 3-pointers, many of which were wide open due to slow rotations and weak closeouts.
Second-leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis missed his second game with a non-COVID illness but the Wizards still shot 56% from the field.
“Even when we were healthy, we were .500,” Kuzma said, not making excuses for the Wizards’ poor health.
Corey Kispert made a halfcourt shot at the last second to put the Wizards up 66-60. Due to a clock malfunction — the time kept running — the teams had to replay 0.4 seconds of the second quarter after halftime.
WHAT ABOUT THE DEFENSE?
Even with Beasley’s 25 points as a reserve, the team was talking about his work on the defensive end.
“Malik did a great job of recognizing the times to fan back out to the shooters and it ended getting him some steals. It’s something we work on a lot,” Hardy said.
Beasley had four steals and forced some poor shots by the Wizards.
“It was about being in the right spots … and keeping my hands active, knowing which guys are going to pass the ball and which guys won’t,” Beasley said.
Wizards: Washington was called for goaltending on three shots in the first quarter. … Deni Avdija sat out with a sore back after playing in 114 consecutive games. … The Wizards went 17 for 24 in the second quarter and had 19 fast-break points to 3 for Utah in the first half.
Jazz: Kelly Olynyk missed his third game with a sprained left ankle. … Utah scored on nine straight possessions in the third quarter. … Walker Kessler had 12 points and 14 rebounds. … Utah went 20 for 21 from the free throw line.
Wizards: Visit Sacramento on Friday.
Jazz: Visit San Antonio on Monday.
By Matthew Cole, The Associated Press and DJ Arthurs | 12/23/22
San Antonio Spurs 117, New Orleans Pelicans 126
Head to Head: New Orleans Pelicans, odds 1.28
Line: New Orleans Pelicans (-7.5), odds 1.83
Total Points: Over (226.5), odds 1.93 - by miles!
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — CJ McCollum scored a season-high 40 points and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs 126-117 on Thursday night to end their four-game losing streak.
Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans, who won despite Zion Williamson being scratched from the lineup because of the NBA's health and safety protocols.
The Pelicans — who also were missing forwards Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. — made 13 3-pointers. McCollum hit seven from deep, and his first gave New Orleans the lead for good at 3-2 in the opening minutes.
“We needed that type of production from him with the guys being out,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “It’s beautiful to watch when he’s on the floor and he’s scoring like he does."
The Pelicans led by as many as 23 points and opened the fourth quarter with a 19-point lead.
The Spurs got back in the game with a 10-0 run fueled by Stanley Johnson, who scored nine of his 12 points in the final period.
McCollum, however, almost single-handedly kept the Spurs at bay. His floater off the glass was the first of 19 points he scored in a pivotal seven-minute stretch. The individual outburst included four 3s — one while McCollum was fouled for a 4-point play.
“McCollum dominated the game from the very beginning,” reserve center Willy Hernangomez said. “I’m happy for CJ. He’s been really getting his rhythm back. Today was a big game for him. I'm happy to see him making shots and making the right decision over and over.”
The last of McCollum's 3s made it 119-106 with 3:31 to go. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich subbed out his entire lineup moments later, and the Pelicans remained comfortably ahead after that.
“We’ll get down, figure it out, and then start playing,” Popovich said. “We don’t have somebody like a McCollum that’s going to come in and do what he did to us. We made it a decent game at that point and then he took over. He was great."
Jeremy Sochan scored a career-high 23 points for San Antonio.
“I am becoming more comfortable and confident," Sochan said. "I had career highs tonight but we still lost, so it doesn’t really matter.”
Tre Jones added 19 points and Josh Richardson had 14 for the Spurs.
The Pelicans missed their first nine shots from close range but hit four of their six 3-point attempts — with McCollum making three — to take a 12-2 lead.
The Spurs missed eight of their first nine shots and committed three turnovers during that stretch.
“Sometimes, like tonight, we come out slow on offense but we can’t let that affect our game,” Tre Jones said. "We have to keep our defensive mentality especially when shots are not falling at the start of the game.
By the end of the first quarter, the Pelicans had made six 3s, the last of those by Devonte' Graham putting New Orleans up 37-17.
“We can’t give away a quarter the way we did,” Popovich said. "We played them pretty even after that first quarter, but we do that too often. ... We can’t have those first quarters. That’s the whole game.”
Spurs: Leading scorer Keldon Johnson missed his second straight game with right hamstring tightness. ... Jakob Poeltl scored 13 points and Devin Vassell scored 10. ... Missed 19 of 28 3-point shots.
Pelicans: Trey Murphy III scored 15 points, while Hernangomez scored 13 and Herb Jones scored 12 to go with his block and two steals. ... Jose Alvarado had nine points and three steals. ... Hit 25 of 27 free throws (92.6%). ... Ingram missed his 12th straight game with his left large toe injury and Nance missed his second straight game with a sore right Achilles tendon. Williamson also is expected to miss at least one more game.
Spurs: At Orlando on Friday night.
Pelicans: At Oklahoma City on Friday night.
By Bret Martel, The Associated Press and DJ Arthurs | 12/23/22
Follow DJ Arthurs on Twitter at @DJArthursJourno