WASHINGTON — Before Monday’s game, Jazz coach Quin Snyder heaped praises on Washington guard Bradley Beal.
He talked about his ability in the pick-and-roll and how he can shoot it off the dribble. About how he uses screening actions and handoffs and backdoors. About how he can get into the paint and his phenomenal finishing at the rim.
“I don't follow the MVP race and the all-NBA teams or those things,” Snyder said. “But he’s at the same level of the guys who are in consideration. I’m not making a statement about all that — that’s not my job. But it is my job to watch film. And when you watch film, he’s terrific.”
It’s also his job to figure out how to stop Beal. And Snyder did that, too.
Beal came into Monday’s game having scored 40 points in back-to-back games. He had made at least one 3-pointer in 47 straight games. And he had just been named Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 32.5 points and 7.5 assists in four games.
What did he do on Monday? Nothing close to that. Beal finished with 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting and didn’t hit a 3-pointer. That was a big reason Utah blasted Washington 116-95 Monday at Capital One Arena.
“We had some guys that guarded him and it worked,” Snyder said “You're not going to guard a player of his caliber with one guy, so I think we had a good awareness. He had some clean looks in the first half. We were lucky that those didn't go in, but I thought we worked hard.”
As for Beal, he never felt the Jazz took their eyes off him. He said he hadn’t been face guarded that much since high school. That was intentional, but not necessarily the way that the Washington guard was thinking.
“He comes off a lot of pin downs and how we guard pin downs is pretty much face guarding. … so yeah, it’s part of the game plan,” Jae Crowder said.
And without their All-Star putting up All-Star numbers, the Wizards didn’t stand much of a chance. Especially after Snyder woke his team up with a stern message in the third quarter.
The Wizards had connected on three straight 3-pointers. And even though it hadn’t made too much of an impact on the score (the Jazz answered the first two with triples of their own), that didn’t sit well with the Jazz coach. He signaled for a break and let his team have it.
“I don't take it personally,” Gobert said. “I think he does that to wake us up. And he uses me, cause he knows that. … By being hard on me, he’s hard on the team. He was right. I was a little too comfortable.”
From then, the Jazz lead ballooned from nine points to as much as 25.
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 19 points on 8-of-18 shooting, Gobert had 14 points and 14 rebounds and Crowder added 18 for the Jazz (41-29) in the win. It was Utah’s fourth straight victory.
With 7:29 remaining, Royce O’Neale passed it inside to Gobert who was posting up. He turned and casually dunked the ball with two hands.
There was a defender there. They just didn’t seem all that motivated to do anything to stop the Jazz center. And for much of the night, the Wizards defense as a whole followed suit.
Giving up wide open 3-pointers to Kyle Korver? Sure. How about Joe Ingles? You betcha. But rotating into the lane to stop the drives of Mitchell, Crowder and anyone else that wanted to run on down? Not so much.
Utah picked apart the lackluster Washington defense, finishing the game with 35 assists and shooting 53.8 percent from the field. Ingles hit four 3-pointers and Korver hit three of his own.
“I thought our focus was high tonight,” Korver said. “I think we wanted to start this road trip off well. They threw a bunch of different looks at us, a few different lineups. A couple times it took us a few minutes to adjust. I thought we kind of just stayed steady with it.”