SALT LAKE CITY — Standing at the free-throw line, Bradley Beal told Rudy Gobert he was going to dunk on him even after the big Frenchman had blocked two of his shots in the first half.
But Beal got his dunk and the last laugh.
He scored a season-high 37 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a late 3-pointer to help the Washington Wizards beat the Utah Jazz 109-103 on Saturday night.
With Washington up 105-103, the Wizards’ Raul Neto won a jump ball with Donovan Mitchell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds to play.
“When Raul won the jump ball and I got it, all I heard from my bench was `butter’, which means it’s late in the clock. I just turned around, got separation and made it,” Caldwell-Pope said.
Neto had 15 points and a career-high seven rebounds, and Caldwell-Pope finished with 13 points to help the Wizards snap a four-game losing streak.
“It was big. We really needed this win. We’ve been on a slippery slope,” Caldwell-Pope said.
Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points, Bojan Bogdanovic had 18 points and Rudy Gobert added 11 points, 19 rebounds and a season-high six blocks for Utah. The Jazz have lost on consecutive nights after winning eight straight.
“We just made it tough on ourselves. We got in some isolation, got stagnant a little bit,” Mitchell said.
The Jazz played without Mike Conley and often looked dysfunctional on offense without their point guard.
“Mike always tries to make all the guys better all the time, so obviously it’s always a little harder for everybody when he’s not out there,” Gobert said regarding Utah’s 0-3 record when Conley doesn’t play.
In a game devoid of much emotion most of the way, Mitchell bullied Neto on the block and scored late in the third quarter. The basket moved the Jazz in front for the first time in the second half, 73-72. Then he flexed and urged the crowd on.
After a timeout, Beal drove the lane, dunked on Gobert and celebrated all the way down the court. Things got more intense from there.
“For me, I know that when I’m aggressive and putting pressure on the defense. It opens up everything, makes getting guys shots easier,” Beal said. “I’m a scorer.”
Deni Avdija scored 11 points, marking the first time he has scored in double figures in three straight games. But his presence was most impactful on the defensive end as he hounded Jordan Clarkson and Mitchell.
“I just know the tendencies and I have learned their game. I just take pride. I take the challenge. I’m not backing off. I’m not scared of anybody,” Avdija said.
Mitchell and the Jazz got off to a fast start and led by 11 early but the Wizards changed their defensive strategy in crunch time.
“You got to mix up coverages. You can’t be on a steady diet of just running the same defense because eventually they’re picking it apart so we were able to switch, able to drop, able to man up,” Avdija said.
Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. wanted to keep the Jazz guessing.
“Everyone had a crack at Donovan – Danny, Brad, Pope – and he had a heck of a game but we changed looks just to keep him out of the comfort zone, keep him from seeing a lot of daylight or space,” Unseld said.