The Utah Jazz came for its lone yearly visit to the nation’s capital Sunday without leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, out of the lineup with an upper respiratory illness.
The Jazz didn’t need him because Bojan Bogdanovic scored a game-high 31 points to help defeat the Washington Wizards 127-116.
Utah (27-12) remains one of the hottest teams in the NBA with its ninth straight victory.
The team’s depth showed with All-Defensive center Rudy Gobert protecting the paint to record a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds. He also registered the team’s only two blocked shots.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks praised both Gobert and Bogdanovic, who played part of the 2016-17 season with Washington. Bogdanovic scored 22 of his 31 points in the first half.
“Bojan is one of the all-around best wing players that I’ve coached,” Brooks said. “He’s hard to guard. He’s smart. He plays hard every night.”
One stat Brooks mentioned which hurt Washington (13-26) was foul shooting. After only going 3-for-3 in the first half, Utah shot 18-of-22 in the second half. In comparison, Washington went 15-of-17 at the free throw line for the entire game.
“Twenty-two free throws in the second half. I think that changed the game,” he said. “We put them in the bonus quickly. We’re fouling too much. The game was different from the first half to the second half.”
At one point in the game, Washington led 54-39 in the second quarter where the fast pace favored Washington with 15 assists, versus 10 for Utah.
The Jazz had a slight edge in rebounding 18-17 in the first half. Utah forced the game to run at a slower pace in the second half with Utah pulling down a total of 45 rebounds, compared to 36 for the Wizards. The team is tied with the Sacramento Kings for last place averaging nearly 46 rebounds per game.
Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who returned to the lineup after missing five games with a sore right leg, led the team with 25 points in 27 minutes of action.
“The biggest thing was just being out there with my teammates,” Beal said. “Just being able to get up and down [the court]. If felt good. Defensively, we weren’t engaged and locked in. It was just a second–half slip.”
Wizards center Thomas Bryant also returned to the lineup Sunday after missing 20 games with a right foot injury. He scored eight points and three rebounds in 15 minutes of action. Before his injury in December, he averaged nearly 14 points and eight rebounds per game.
Washington will play six of its next eight games on the road. The team has won only five road games so far this season, with its last victory away from D.C. on Dec. 23 against the New York Knicks.
However, Washington defeated three top NBA contenders at Capital One Arena within the past two weeks: the Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics. All three victories happened while Beal remained inactive.
“I like going on the road because it’s just you and your teammates,” said Wizards point guard Ish Smith, who finished with eight points and seven assists. “When you travel on the road, you have to bring your defense. We have been better defensive-wise. Play with pace and share the basketball and do what has helped us get these wins when we’ve been here [at home].”