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Utah Jazz shut down Washington Wizards for sixth straight home win

By John Coon, The Sports Xchange
Utah Jazz shut down Washington Wizards for sixth straight home win
Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) makes a pass under the basket against Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13). File photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

SALT LAKE CITY -- Injuries allowed Shelvin Mack to find his way back into the playing rotation for the Utah Jazz. Mack is making a case to stick around on the court if the Jazz roster ever gets fully healthy in time for the playoffs.

Mack scored several critical fourth-quarter baskets to help Utah edge the Washington Wizards 95-88 on Friday night. The veteran guard finished with 15 points off the bench -- his second consecutive game in double figures after scoring 14 against Sacramento.

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For Mack, it is a 180-degree turn from recent months where he fell out of the rotation and then suffered a sprained ankle, complicating his efforts to return to the lineup. He has focused on playing aggressive when his number is called and doing what it takes to help the Jazz win.

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"I think I'm doing a great job of reading the game and reading the situation," Mack said. "Not really forcing anything, but just taking what the defense is giving me. I know, in certain parts to the game, we kind of struggled. The best thing for me is to just be aggressive."

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Gordon Hayward scored 19 points while Rudy Gobert chipped in 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks for the Jazz. Utah (47-29) earned its sixth straight home victory, matching a season high.

Both teams traded baskets and the lead well into the fourth quarter. Washington proved unable to pull away after the Jazz missed eight of nine shots to open the quarter. Utah went ahead for good at 84-80 on back-to-back baskets from Hayward and Joe Ingles.

Bradley Beal twice cut the deficit to two with a basket. Mack countered each one by slashing to the rim for a layup on the other end. His second layup gave Utah a 92-88 lead with 48 seconds left.

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After Beal stepped out of bounds on the next possession, Mack sealed the win with a pair of free throws.

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"Shelvin just plays with a good deliberate pace and you can tell the trust his teammates have for him out there during crucial times," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.

Beal scored 27 points and John Wall added 16 to lead the Wizards. Washington (46-30) lost its second straight game after winning four in a row.

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The Wizards shot just 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from the perimeter and gave up 22 points off 14 turnovers. It complicated Washington's efforts to outlast Utah in the final quarter.

"We were playing at their pace," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "That's what they do and we got caught up in that. We didn't spread the court. We didn't move the ball like we've been moving the ball all season."

Washington shot just 16 free throws compared to 31 for the Jazz. This disparity from the line didn't sit well with Wall after the game.

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"We didn't lose this game," Wall said. "The refs made us lose this game. We fought hard to give ourselves a chance. But you don't shoot no 31 free throws to 16 the way we attack the basket as a team. That's how I feel about it."

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Wall drew a technical foul after striking Gobert below the belt midway through the third quarter. The Wizards guard characterized the call as "outrageous" and said it was incidental contact that occurred while he was trying to fight over a screen.

He maintained that Washington should get more leeway from the officials because they play an aggressive style of basketball.

"We're a good team and we're not a sorry team," Wall said. "We're a good team that comes out and plays hard every night and we deserve certain calls."

Gobert and Rodney Hood each made three baskets to open the first quarter and propel Utah to a 15-5 lead. Hood buried a pair of 3-pointers, sandwiched around an alley-oop dunk from Gobert, to help the Jazz score the game's first eight points. Gobert finished off the spurt with a layup.

The Wizards wasted no time erasing the double-digit deficit. Washington tied it up at 19-19 when Beal drove for a layup and Markieff Morris followed with a putback dunk on the ensuing possession to cap a 12-3 run.

Kelly Oubre, Jr. gave the Wizards their first lead on a layup early in the second quarter. Oubre, Jr. then capped a 12-4 run with a hammer dunk to put Washington up 31-28. Utah surged back in front 35-31 behind baskets on three straight possessions, culminating in a jumper from Hayward.

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The Jazz missed eight of 10 shots to open the third quarter. It opened the door for the Wizards to go back in front. Washington scratched out a 54-49 lead behind 3-pointers from Wall and Otto Porter, Jr. Utah reclaimed a 55-54 lead on a pair of 3-pointers from Ingles and Hayward.

"You know that's who we want to be, we want to be a defensive team," Gobert said. "If we do that, we always have a chance to win. Tonight we didn't have the best night shooting but we still won."

NOTES: Jazz G George Hill and G Raul Neto each missed a second straight game with a strained groin. ... Washington scored 18 second-chance points off 14 offensive rebounds. ... Jazz C Rudy Gobert earned his 54th double-double of the season. ... Wizards G John Wall shot under 50 percent from the field for just the second time in his last six games. Wall went 6-of-22 (.273) from the floor. ... Jazz G Rodney Hood made nine consecutive 3-pointers over three games before finally missing one early in the fourth quarter. He finished with 11 points. ... The game featured 12 ties and 12 lead changes.

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