Healthy Wizards show potential in another win over Jazz as Deni Avdija battles a harsh whistle

Apr 13, 2021 | Deni Avdija

The Washington Wizards are currently the healthiest they have been since the very beginning of the season before Thomas Bryant went down with an ACL injury. Presently, they have better chemistry than the dreadful 0-5 or 6-17 start. In fitting fashion, they defeated the Utah Jazz 125-121 for the season sweep and snapped Utah’s 24-game home winning streak. Battling foul trouble, Deni Avdija was scoreless and grabbed two rebounds in 10 minutes of play, but was entertaining during his time on the bench.

The home team came out on fire with 70 percent shooting in the first quarter including six three-pointers to put Washington in a 42-33 hole after 12 minutes of play. With the Jazz cooling off and better defense by the Wizards, the firepower Washington has on their healthy team started to take over. Bradley Beal had 34 points, his first 30-plus scoring night since, you guessed it, the last win over Utah on March 18. Russell Westbrook had an efficient 25 points on 8-for-15 shooting and his league-leading 23rd triple-double to go with a clutch jump shot to all but seal the victory. Probably the Wizards center lineup for the rest of the season, Daniel Gafford and Robin Lopez combined for 25 points on 11-for-13 shooting. Washington is now 7-4 this season when committing 12 or fewer turnovers.

“We played really well tonight, aggressive on the defensive end, and made a lot of things tough for them,” Bradley Beal summarized.

Earlier in the season, Deni Avdija could not stay on the floor because of foul trouble, but he has improved in that area since returning as a starter the past nine contests, averaging just 2.4 fouls in 32 minutes per game. That was out the window in Utah as Avdija was called for three brutal first-half fouls in six minutes. The infractions were nearly catching an elbow from Joe Ingles, playing what appeared to be clean defense but Donovan Mitchell badly missed the layup so was given a superstar call, and trying to fight through a Rudy Gobert screen that maybe could have been offensive. Despite the few minutes on the court, Avdija continues to play sound defense when not whistled and was still entrusted at the end of the game on the defensive end when things did get close.

“It’s all a learning experience for Deni. I love his effort, I love his care level. Some nights are going to be better than others,” Scott Brooks echoed again as he has throughout the season.

The Wizards will finish their West Coast road trip in Sacramento on Wednesday against the Kings.

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