WASHINGTON — After posting back-to-back 40-point games, Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal was looking for an encore performance against the Utah Jazz on Monday.
However, things wouldn't play out that way.
Fresh off being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the Jazz held Beal to 15 points on 4-for-12 shooting in a 116-95 victory at Capital One Arena.
“I came in and I noticed a lot of it he was comfortable getting in his groove and I think we just tried to disrupt him,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said of Beal. “He’s going to get his, he’s tough.
“He’s so tough and he gets in his groove early, so we tried to eliminate that, and the way Royce and Joe guarded him today was fantastic,” he added. “They’re great defenders and it was another exhibition out there tonight.”
Beal admitted after the Jazz loss that he hadn’t been face guarded that much in his career “since high school.”
Jazz forward Jae Crowder led the bench scoring with 18 points on the night, including 10 in the third, and later revealed that slowing down Beal was a major part of the game plan. With Beal typically coming off a lot of pin-downs, the way Utah guards those situations are through old-fashioned, "top-lock" defensive formations.
“Obviously, he’s the main focus and he’s a guy that we talked about in our morning meeting,” said Crowder, who also grabbed five rebounds with three assists and two blocks. “We just wanted to give him a lot of looks and make it tough for him and make every catch and him work for it and not let the game be an easy, fun game for him because if it is, he can score at a high clip.”
Utah’s bench also outscored Washington’s 55-44 and posted 58 points in the paint to the Wizards’ 40. The Jazz went up by as many as 25 in the second half and really started to pull away with a 24-9 run from 8:35 to 1:38 in the third.
Mitchell led the Jazz with 19 points and two assists but reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert was also dominant with 14 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks just hours after learning he was named Western Conference Player of the Week for the first time of his career.
Gobert posted his 56th double-double of the season to lead the Jazz to their fourth consecutive victory on the first stop of their four-game road trip.
“It’s a great honor. It’s a little something that I appreciate,” Gobert said of being named Western Conference Player of the Week. “I’m doing the same thing I’ve been doing every week and I’m going to keep doing it and I’m focused on the team."
Jabari Parker led the Wizards with 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Joe Ingles contributed 16 points with four assists for the Jazz while Kyle Korver ended with 10 points the day after celebrating his 38th birthday on March 17.Comment on this story
“It’s hard to believe he’s 38, he’s just got so much pride in how he plays and he’s a fun guy to coach because he can shoot,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of Korver. “I don’t think of him as 38. I just think of him as a really good player that takes care of himself and trains, and he’s kept himself in great shape and I’m not concerned with how old he is. Maybe if he gets to be 48, we’ll start to worry about him.”
Although there isn’t an All-Star player in the Knicks lineup such as Beal, New York did just beat LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in a late-game thriller on Sunday, so it won’t be an easy task.
“It is tough, but we have to stay locked in, stay focused,” Mitchell said. “We have a long trip coming up and the teams we are playing are not going to care. We have to go out there and just continue to do what we do and just take it one step at a time.”