Jazz Defeat Wizards 123-108 After Washington’s Coaching Change

Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards, NBA News
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Lauri Markkanen’s impressive 29-point performance propelled the Utah Jazz to a 123-108 victory over the Washington Wizards during Thursday’s NBA action, overshadowing Brian Keefe’s first game as interim coach following Wes Unseld Jr.’s transition to the Wizards’ front office.

Markkanen acknowledged the team’s return to form, while also recognizing areas for improvement.

“Just got back to our normal self,” Markkanen said. “It wasn’t perfect tonight, but we definitely brought the energy.”

The Wizards, under new coaching leadership, fell to a 7-37 record, continuing their slump with their sixth consecutive loss and 12th in the last 13 games.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz, Kyle Kuzma, Washington Wizards Updates

Keefe, despite the loss, expressed satisfaction with the team’s process and resilience, highlighting their 33 assists and pace of play. He remained optimistic, attributing the defeat partly to missed shooting opportunities.

“I was pleased with the process tonight,” Keefe said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well. I think we had 33 assists and we only made seven 3s, so that’s good. We played at the pace we wanted to. If we made those shots, we would have been right there. But I was proud of our resilience within the game. That was really important to me.”

John Collins was another standout for Utah, contributing 22 points and 16 rebounds, which Jazz coach Will Hardy emphasized as a key factor in their win. Hardy praised Collins’ energy and effectiveness in various aspects of the game.

“Some good games from a lot of guys,” Hardy said. “I think John Collins, his activity tonight, his energy level screening and rolling, getting on the glass, 22 and 16 with seven offensive rebounds, I thought he was a huge reason why we won tonight’s game.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz, Kyle Kuzma, Washington Wizards Updates

Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Clarkson each added 19 points for the Jazz, with Collin Sexton scoring 11. Hardy also commended Olynyk’s versatility and effective decision-making on the court.

“I thought Kelly did a good job of mixing up popping and rolling,” Hardy said. “In particular, there are two possessions where he recognizes that Daniel Gafford is guarding him. And instead of rolling, pops. He also did a good job digging out some loose balls and finishing around the basket. He had that fade-away in the post that was pretty sweet.”

For Washington, Kyle Kuzma led the scoring with 26 points, followed by Jordan Poole with 18. The Wizards initially started strong, leading 13-4, but Utah quickly turned the game around, leading 36-29 after the first quarter and maintaining their advantage throughout the game.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz, Kyle Kuzma, Washington Wizards Updates

Kuzma noted the team’s effort, considering it one of their best performances in terms of effort, despite the loss and struggles with shooting.

“We didn’t hit shots,” Kuzma said. “We played with great effort. Probably one of our best effort nights.”

Looking ahead, the Utah Jazz will face the Charlotte Hornets, while the Washington Wizards are set to play against the Detroit Pistons, both games scheduled for Saturday night.

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