Thursday, June 13, 2024
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NBA Preview: Utah Jazz (22-23) at Washington Wizards (7-36)

Either the Utah Jazz or the Washington Wizards will snap a cold streak when they play in the nation’s capital on Thursday night.

The Wizards are taking the court under new leadership for the first time after losing their fifth consecutive game. The visiting Minnesota Timberwolves handed Washington a 118-107 loss on Wednesday night. It was Washington’s 11th defeat in 12 games.

It was the last game as head coach for Wes Unseld Jr., who will be replaced on the bench by interim coach Brian Keefe.

The Jazz have dropped three straight outings since reeling off six victories in a row.

Utah was blasted 153-124 at New Orleans on Tuesday as the Pelicans’ CJ McCollum went off for nine 3-pointers and 33 points. It was the second straight loss for the Jazz to open a six-game road trip.

Collin Sexton topped Utah with 22 points and seven assists, while Simone Fontecchio added 18 points.

The Jazz’s chances were essentially ended in the third quarter when John Collins’ layup attempt was swatted away. The Pelicans went on to outscore Utah 24-8 in the final 6:32 of the third quarter to take a 24-point lead.

Likewise, the Wizards’ hopes against the Timberwolves came apart at the seams in the third quarter.

Deni Avdija poured in a season-best 24 points and sparked the Wizards to a 59-57 halftime lead. But Minnesota took advantage after Daniel Gafford committed his fifth foul in the third quarter, going on a 16-2 run and seizing momentum for good.

Washington’s Marvin Bagley III added 17 points with a season-high 15 rebounds, while Kyle Kuzma totaled 17 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the loss.

Washington is on its fourth losing streak of at least five games this season.

The Thursday contest will conclude the Wizards’ eighth back-to-back set this season. Washington lost the second game each of the previous seven times.

Even so, Unseld is optimistic that all of his parts will come together eventually.

The Wizards and Jazz are set to meet for the first time this season. They will face off again in Salt Lake City on March 4. The teams split their two-game series each of the previous two seasons.

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