The Utah Jazz will look to end a four-game losing streak when they host the Washington Wizards on Thursday night.
All four losses have come at home for Utah, which sits solidly in playoff positioning in the Western Conference but has been taking on water of late.
The Wizards, meanwhile, have playoff aspirations of their own. They’re ninth in the Eastern Conference, coming off a win over the Brooklyn Nets two nights after taking the Milwaukee Bucks into overtime.
The Jazz faced one of the East’s top teams on Wednesday night, falling to the Boston Celtics 114-103.
Utah started the game 3-for-17 from the field, including 0-for-8 from 3-point range, but recovered to trail 53-51 at halftime and by 85-82 entering the fourth quarter. But the Celtics pulled away with a 13-3 run early in the fourth.
“I thought we did a good job playing through it when we weren’t making shots. Our defensive effort and our energy stayed at a good level. I felt differently about tonight’s game compared to the games we’ve played the last couple days,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
“It’s not a moral victory in that sense at all, but our team is going to keep working and finding it and keep getting better from where we were two nights ago (in a 20-point loss to the Phoenix Suns).”
Utah’s Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 37 points on 15-for-32 shooting. The third-year guard has scored 30-plus points in three straight games, and he’s now scored 35-plus points seven times this season.
Mike Conley (15 points) and Royce O’Neale (14 points, three steals) were the only other Utah players to score in double figures.
Joe Ingles (two points on 1-for-3 shooting) and Bojan Bogdanovic (three points on 1-for-8 shooting, including 0-for-4 from 3-point range) continued to struggle for the Jazz. O’Neale replaced Ingles in the starting lineup.
“We’ve got some guys we believe in who are going to find it,” Snyder said. “That’s all of us, as much as anything. That’s why it’s a team game. The message is really that simple: Everybody just keep playing and competing. Play hard and play together and play defense.”
Washington lost its first three games after the All-Star break and squandered an 18-point lead against the Nets before pulling out the victory on Jerome Robinson’s 3-pointer, followed by his rebound and two free throws after a Brooklyn miss in the final seconds. That sealed a 110-106 victory.
After scoring 53 and 55 points in consecutive games, Bradley Beal settled for 30 points and an assist on the winning basket against Brooklyn.
“If coach (Scott Brooks) has you on the floor, there’s a reason you’re out here,” Beal said of Robinson. “I’m not going to chuck it up from 45 when I’ve got two, three people running at me. I’ve got wide open teammates. Win, lose or draw, I’m always going to trust guys who are wide open.”
Rui Hachimura added 17 points, and Davis Bertans (14 points) was back after missing the Milwaukee game with a sore right knee.
“It’s huge and it gets us back on track for the road,” Robinson said of the win, which kept Washington on the doorstep of playoff eligibility. “We have got some tough ones on the road, but if we can keep going the way we are and keep pushing the pace like that, I think we will come out all right.”
Washington, which is opening a four-game Western Conference swing, lost to Utah 127-116 in D.C. on Jan. 12.
The Wizards defense has improved since then. They had forced 20 or more turnovers in five straight games before settling for 18 against Brooklyn.
–Field Level Media