WASHINGTON (AP) — With Utah beginning a four-game trip while jockeying for position in the tight Western Conference playoff race, the objective in its first game was clear — contain Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
Beal had posted back-to-back 40-point games for the Wizards, who are clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.
The Jazz were up to the task on Monday night as Beal managed only 15 points and failed to hit a 3-pointer for the third time this season in Utah’s 116-95 win over Washington.
Rudy Gobert had 14 points and 14 rebounds and Donovan Mitchell scored 19 as Utah won its fourth straight game and sixth overall against Washington.
Gobert, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, was perfect from the field (6 of 6) for Utah, which remained seventh in the West, one-half game behind San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
“We had some guys that guarded (Beal) that worked and you’re not going to guard a player of his caliber with one guy,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had a good awareness.”
Jae Crowder had 18 points and Joe Ingles scored 16 as each spent time trying to frustrate Beal. Kyle Korver added 10 points off the bench, and Ricky Rubio had eight points and 10 assists.
Jabari Parker led Washington with 19 points while Beal finished shooting just 4-of-12 as the Wizards wrapped up a five-game homestand at 3-2.
Beal said he hadn’t been defended like he was on Monday since high school.
“They face guarded me the whole game,” Beal said. “You know I’m not going to score 40 points every night, everybody knows that. I’m not Superman.”
Washington fell 4½ games behind eighth-place Miami in the Eastern Conference with 11 games remaining.
Beal missed his first three shots and managed just five points in the first half.
“They did a good job when (Beal) was open, they sent another guy,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “When he was driving the lane they had the big guy down there. That’s how they play. They’re a good defensive team.”
Washington shot 42 percent for the game and 30 percent from long distance. Utah shot 54 percent from the field and made 14 3-pointers.
Jazz: Gobert joined Mitchell on Monday as the second Utah to player to earn Western Conference Player of the Week honors this season. … Gobert had his 55th double-double of the season. … Thabo Sefolosha returned after missing Saturday’s game against the Nets with left hamstring tightness and had six points in 12 minutes. … Dante Exum missed his second straight game after partially tearing his right patellar tendon on March 14.
Wizards: Beal earned his second Eastern Conference Player of the Week award on Monday. … Have lost three straight at home to Utah. … Brooks picked up a technical foul in the second quarter.
After the Wizards hit 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions — two by Bobby Portis — to trim a 12-point deficit to nine early in the third quarter, Snyder called timeout and yelled at his stars.
“We were bad,” Snyder said. “A couple of them Rudy didn’t get back to Portis and he’s been shooting the ball well. We had a couple breakdowns that weren’t acceptable, not just to me but to them, too. I thought Donovan and Rudy really needed to pick it up.”
The pair responded and just over three minutes later the lead was up to 19.
Asked if Dwight Howard was being shut down for this season, Brooks said: “Not officially.”
Howard (back surgery) has played just nine games this season for Washington and is now dealing with a hamstring issue.
“The season is winding down. It’s going to be tough, but you never know,” Brooks said.
Jazz: Visit New York on Wednesday.
Wizards: At Chicago on Wednesday.