NBA: Hayward powers Jazz past Wizards

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Gordon Hayward scored a game-high 30 points as the Utah Jazz handed the Washington Wizards a rare home loss at the Verizon Center arena with a 102-92 victory on Sunday.

The Jazz led by as many as 24 points en route to their third consecutive win in the battle between the two first place NBA teams.

Rudy Gobert finished with 15 points and 20 rebounds and George Hill tallied 21 for the Northwest Division-leading Jazz, who improved to 37-22 on the season.

“It’s a big win,” Gobert said. “I’ve been watching this team. They’ve been playing great, especially at home. We knew it was going to be a big challenge, and it shows that we’re ready for playing (against) anybody.”

The Southeast Division-leading Wizards (34-23) had won 19 of their last 20 home games and had scored at 100 points in 23 consecutive games.

The Wizards have now dropped two consecutive games for the first time in nearly two months. Washington lost 120-112 at the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday and it doesn’t get any easier going forward.

“Philly, that was a trap game,” Washington forward Markieff Morris said. “This game, they just beat our (butt). It happens.”

On Tuesday the Wizards host the Golden State Warriors, who became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth when they defeated the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

John Wall had 23 points and 11 assists and Bradley Beal scored all of his 22 points in the second half for Washington.

The Wizards were outscored 23-10 from the free throw line, and finished with just 27 rebounds compared to 52 for the Jazz in front of a crowd of 20,100.

“We didn’t make shots,” said Wall, who gave the ball away nine times. “I did a bad job turning the ball over, but it’s tough to be in a game when someone is shooting (18) free throws to one in the first half.”

Asked to expand on his free-throw claim, Wall said, “Just ask the refs. They know. They ain’t (making) the calls. Leave it at that.”

© Agence France-Presse