SALT LAKE CITY — Opposing point guards have given Utah trouble this season, which led to the Jazz acquiring Shelvin Mack at the trade deadline. He came up big against three-time All-Star John Wall on Friday night.
Mack scored a career-high 27 points as the Jazz beat the Washington Wizards 114-93 on Friday night.
Mack had been inconsistent in the last five games after a strong start following his acquisition from Atlanta in a three-team trade. He’s the starter now and put in some extra film work the last few days with coach Quin Snyder.
"The past four years I’ve been mostly playing with pick-and-pop bigs," Mack said. "(Derrick Favours and Rudy Gobert), that’s not kind of their strength. So there’s different situations on the court.
"(I knew) to keep grinding, sticking to it and great things would happen."
Mack chuckled and admitted there was some extra motivation playing against the team that drafted him and facing a good friend in Wall.
He shot 11 for 17 from the field with an array of interior floaters and three 3-pointers. Gordon Hayward had 18 points and Rodney Hood added 14 for Utah.
"Maybe we can kind of put that Shelvin's responsible for our wins and losses to bed," Snyder said. "He played well tonight. He had a lot of those shots in other games and didn't make them. He did a nice job of being aggressive offensively.
"The main thing for him that I want to see is pushing the ball up the court, playing defence and trying to get people involved."
The Jazz broke a two-game skid, but remained three games behind Houston for eighth place in the Western Conference.
Wall had 24 points and nine assists, and Markieff Morris added 16 points for Washington, which lost its fourth straight to fall 2 1/2 games behind Detroit for the last Eastern Conference playoff spot.
"We didn't come out with any sense of urgency tonight," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "I don't know how we can do that with 18 games left.
"That might be a record -- 114 points on 15 assists. Which means they're taking us off the dribble. Everything is off the dribble. We can't keep anybody in front of us. I don't think we went out with any kind of desire."
Utah pulled away in the third, ending the quarter with a 22-10 run and a pair of fast-break layups by Chris Johnson.
The Jazz led 56-48 at halftime after closing the second quarter on a 15-8 run.
"We were denying so much -- trying to chase and deny -- that they used it against us," Wall said. "When they handed the ball off, their bigs set good screens. They were getting downhill and getting to the free throw line or making wide open threes."
Wizards: Bradley Beal missed his second consecutive game with a sprained pelvis. ... Alan Anderson played despite being listed as questionable with a left ankle issue. ... Ramon Sessions was the lone player with a positive plus-minus. He finished plus-1. ... Washington shot 29 per cent from behind the arc.
Jazz: Hood returned to the starting lineup after missing one game with a lower back soreness. ... The Jazz shot 57 per cent from the floor and 56 per cent from 3-point range. ... Utah outrebounded Washington 42-29. ... The Jazz had lost 7 of 8 before Friday.
Morris entered the game averaging 11.6 points and 7.8 rebounds in four starts since being acquired from Phoenix. He had 12 points at halftime Friday and his 16 matched a season-high in 12 games with Washington.
CLEANING THE GLASS
Rudy Gobert had 11 rebounds and now has 77 in the last five games. He entered the game averaging 11.0 boards in 44 games.
Snyder spoke before the game about Wall's speed in transition and the need to get multiple players back on defence to keep him from getting easy baskets on the break. The plan worked in the first half as the Wizards failed to score a single fast-break point. Washington finished with just six fast break points. "We walked the ball up the floor, settled for lazy contested shots and didn't attack the rim," Wittman said.
The Jazz shot over 50 per cent from the floor for the first time in eight games. "It's amazing how good your offence is when you make jump shots," Snyder said. "Usually when we're being aggressive we're more efficient. We're not turning it over as much."
Wizards: At Denver on Saturday.
Jazz: At Sacramento on Sunday.