SALT LAKE CITY (AP) After losing five of six, Utah Jazz players admitted to being a bit “chippy” at practice on Thursday.
They took out their frustration on a young Washington Wizards team Friday night, leading by 12 at halftime and scoring 38 points in the third quarter en route to a 114-100 victory.
Al Jefferson did most of the damage, scoring a season-high 34 points, including 26 in the first half and 14 straight in the second quarter.
“We didn’t have any fight against him in the first half,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “He did whatever he wanted with the ball. And we didn’t really seem to let it bother us.”
Jefferson had eclipsed his season high of 30 points with nearly 5 minutes left in the third as the Jazz led by as many as 28. He finished 16 of 23 with 12 rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot.
“He looked really sharp out there and the offense kind of ran through him,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He made the right shots and passed to his teammates when he was double-teamed.”
Washington was within 10 points early in the third before Utah blew the game open with runs of 8-0 and 20-8.
“It was very important (to put them away),” said backup point guard Earl Watson, who added five points, a blocked shot and two assists. “With a young team like that, they like to play free, and you have to be careful.”
John Wall led the Wizards with 24 points, while Jordan Crawford added 21 off the bench.
Last season as a rookie, Wall averaged 23.5 points and 11 assists in two wins over the Jazz. Utah did a better job of harassing him early this time.
Wall was disappointed in the 27-12 edge Utah had in fast-break points.
“We weren’t getting back, taking tough shots and not playing defense,” Wall said. “To give up 100 points in three quarters is unnecessary.”
Wall also didn’t get much support from three other Wizards starters: Nick Young shot 4 of 12, Trevor Booker was 1 of 5 and Chris Singleton 2 of 4.
Jazz point guard Devin Harris did his best to keep up with Wall, scoring six straight points in the third quarter on a three-point play and 3-point shot when Utah took control. He also had two steals and a season-high nine assists.
“We wanted to come out and set the tempo and attack the basket,” Corbin said. “Devin did a good job pushing the ball and attacking the basket in transition.”
Paul Millsap added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Utah, which held a 70-44 advantage in the paint.
The Wizards got within 64-54 on a layup by JaVale McGee with 10:08 left in the third.
Harris then hit a running jumper, Millsap followed with a three-point play and Jefferson’s steal set up Gordon Hayward’s 3-pointer that bumped Utah’s lead to 72-54.
Jefferson hit two more mid-range jumpers and Raja Bell a 3 to make it 79-59. Jefferson’s 4-footer with 4:49 left in the third gave Utah its largest lead, 92-64.
“I think the rest helped (Jefferson),” Corbin said of a day off after three games in three days early in the week.
Jefferson had a 10-point first quarter and 16-point second quarter as the Jazz led 62-50 at halftime. He was 12 of 15 at the break and within four of his previous season high of 30 set points Jan. 10 against Cleveland.
In the end, Jefferson was just happy with the win. But he knows the Jazz have to be better on the road, where they play three of their next four and eight of the next 11.
“(At home) you’ve got the fans behind you, and you get that energy,” Jefferson said. “But when you’re on the road, it’s you against the world.”
The Wizards should know. They have won just three road games all season and travel to Phoenix next.
NOTES: The Jazz shot 59.1 percent in the first half and 52.8 percent overall. … Jazz F Gordon Hayward and Wizards G Shelvin Mack played together in 2010 when Butler won the West Regional at EnergySolutions Arena to advance to the NCAA Final Four and eventually the championship game. … Utah fell behind 10-4 to open the game but outscored Washington 28-10 to take a 32-20 lead after one quarter. …The Jazz entered ranked fifth in the NBA in bench scoring at 36.6 points per game. Their reserves scored 39 in this one. … Corbin said he wanted to make a conscious effort to get rookie guard Alec Burks more playing time. Burks didn’t disappoint. He started 6 of 6 and finished with 13 points in 20 minutes, including a 3-pointer that put the Jazz at 100 points through three quarters. … Crawford was averaging 11.5 points off the bench. … Washington is 3-16 when allowing 100 points or more.