Four Washington Wizards players sprinted helplessly down the floor Monday night. The Wizards were getting bombarded in the first half and had to contest yet another easy look for the Utah Jazz. Continuing their trend, they moved with the grace of a jetlagged traveler.
Wizards center Marcin Gortat had been stopped at the rim by Jazz center Rudy Gobert, and when Utah's Joe Ingles controlled the blocked shot, the fast break ignited. Four Wizards recognized the play developing but could only run and point downcourt for someone else to pick up the open man. Pointing doesn't equate to playing defense, of course, and only one Wizard, Jodie Meeks, stood in the paint to try to stop a player who was six inches taller and 21 pounds heavier.
During its 116-69 loss to the Jazz, Washington often left the dirty work for another teammate, believing someone else would rotate, or close out on the shooter, or get back to stop the break. But no one played defense, as the final 47-point margin revealed, and the Wizards suffered their second-worst loss in franchise history ahead of only a 52-point loss in 1971 when the team was still based in Baltimore.
"It's embarrassing," shooting guard Bradley Beal said. "That's probably the best way to put it. There's no point in really getting down about it because, yeah, we got our [tail] kicked today. There's really no words to say it."
Still, coach Scott Brooks searched for the right things to say after the loss. Asked how he would describe the dismantling, Brooks released an exasperated sound then paused for four seconds as words failed him.
"They punched us and punched us again and punched us again," Brooks finally said. "Surprisingly, we didn't fight back. One of the first times since I've been here we didn't play with fight."
Though the Wizards had held opponents to 98.1 points per game over the previous 12 games, the team defense shifted to the opposite parallel against the Jazz (13-11). Utah led 64-30 at halftime, and the Jazz shot 56.6 percent for the game.
Utah wings Alex Burks and Donovan Mitchell combined to shoot 17 for 26, including 6-for-11 marksmanship from beyond the three-point arc. Burks (9-for-13, 3-for-5) scored a game-high 27 points while the rookie Mitchell (8-for-13, 3-for-6), who hit his first four shots, finished with 21. Though four Wizards reached double figures, the team shot 28.8 percent from the field overall.
"Too many mistakes, and they just outplayed us in every aspect," backup point guard Tomas Satoransky said.
Washington (12-11) had enjoyed two rest days after its win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Even so, the team looked strangely lethargic. At the 3:33 mark of the first quarter, Markieff Morris attempted a one-footed jumper from the baseline early in the shot clock. Though Morris made it and the Wizards trailed just 19-15, shots like this one choked the offense for the rest of the half.
After Morris's make, the Wizards succumbed to a 33-6 run. During this stretch, Washington littered the Vivint Smart Home Arena floor with one-shot possessions or settled too often for pull-up midrange looks. The Wizards made only 6 of 21 shots from outside the paint in the first half.
"We were trying to catch up by ourselves, and you can't do that," Brooks said. "I don't care who you're playing, you need four other guys to help you score. It was a little bit — I don't know of the word 'selfish.' They were trying to win the possession by themselves, and you can't. You need a passer, you need a screener, you need ball movers, you need cutters and you need all four guys to participate."
"I think the first half, we just were taking some bad shots, tough shots," Satoransky said. "They really got open shots and it felt like we were everywhere late and they just felt comfortable in the whole game. Everyone who came in for them had an impact."
The loss continues a season-long trend of wild variations. The Wizards have now lost three of their five games since John Wall started rehabilitating his knee injury and are 7-6 in games against teams that are currently above the .500 mark.
— Candace Buckner, The Washington Post
World Para Swimming
Long wins three golds; Coan earns her second
Four-time Paralympian and 23-time Paralympic medalist Jessica Long of Baltimore won three gold medals Sunday night at the World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City. Long defended her world title in the SB7 100-meter breaststroke in 1 minute, 35.48 seconds before claiming the world crown in the S8 100 freestyle (1:06.83). Her third gold was in the 4x100 34-point freestyle relay alongside Hannah Aspden, McKenzie Coan and Natalie Sims. Coan, a senior at Loyola Maryland, earned her second gold after winning the S7 100 free Saturday night. Six-time Paralympic medalist and Notre Dame Prep graduate Becca Meyers of Timonium earned a second-place finish in the S13 100 free (1:01.86). Zachary Shattuck (Frostburg State, South Carroll) placed fourth Sunday in the SB6 men's 100 breaststroke (1:28.97). The United States ranks first in the medal count with 19 after claiming 10 on Sunday.
Local soccer players named high school All-Americans
Archbishop Curley senior defender Nick Richardson and senior forward Ben Stitz were named to the United Soccer Coaches High School All-America boys team Monday. Sparrows Point junior midfielder Juliana Lynch and Urbana senior forward Abbey Burdette were named to the girls team.
Men's college basketball: Mike Lewis II scored 29 points on 10-for-12 shooting and Duquesne beat visiting UMES, 86-61. The Dukes (3-3) made 14 of 29 (48.3 percent) from 3-point range and had a 44-27 edge in rebounding. The Hawks (3-6) made just eight of 28 shots in the first half. Logan McIntosh led UMES with 14 points, Ahmad Frost scored 12 and Miryne Thomas added 10. ... For the second time in school history, Towson earned a vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Tigers last received a vote in the Nov. 11, 2013, AP poll.
Women's college basketball: Lexus Spears scored 17 points and Tykyrah Williams added 14 points and nine rebounds to lead host Morgan State to a 62-51 win over Florida International (2-6). Kayla Horn added 10 points for the Bears (5-3), who never trailed and led by as many as 17 points.
Horse racing: Gunpowder Farms' Monongahela rallied with a steady drive on the far outside to catch Final Prospect approaching the wire and win the featured eighth race by a neck at Laurel Park. Monongahela finished the $47,000 third-level optional claiming allowance in 1:45.46 for about 11/16 miles over a fast main track. Wake Up in Malibu, the 9-5 favorite, was third. ... Jockey Kevin Gomez had a riding double aboard Jump Jive an Wail ($3.20) in the sixth race and Annapolis Class ($6.60) in the ninth. Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado took off his remaining mounts and said he was sore but OK after being thrown when Eyesfirst went down in the third race.
— From Sun staff and news services