WASHINGTON — Al Jefferson scored 21 points, Gordon Hayward added 15 in his first game as a reserve this season, and the Utah Jazz kept the Washington Wizards winless with an 83-76 victory on Saturday night.
The Jazz committed 19 turnovers but pulled away in the fourth quarter while closing a four-game road trip with a sloppy performance – and got away with it because they were playing the Wizards. Washington became only the second team in NBA history to start 0-8 in back-to-back seasons.
The game was tied at 65 early in the fourth when the Wizards went cold, scoring only 13 points in the final period. The Jazz held Washington scoreless for more than 4 minutes while building their first double-digit lead of the game. Utah had nine offensive rebounds in the quarter.
Jordan Crawford scored 20 points for the Wizards.
Fed up with recent slow starts, both coaches shuffled their lineups with two new starters. Coach Tyrone Corbin went with Randy Foye and Derrick Favors instead of Hayward and Marvin Williams, hoping Hayward would get more shots with the second unit.
The strategy had mixed results. The Jazz again started slowly – looking like a team that couldn't wait to get on the plane and head home after nearly a week on the road. They missed nine of their first 10 shots to trail 15-2 midway through the first quarter.
But Hayward and Williams then entered the game and provided a spark, with Hayward scoring six points in a quarter-ending 13-2 spurt. The game then stayed close into the fourth quarter, with Jefferson asserting himself along the way with 17 of Utah's 27 third-quarter points.
Washington coach Randy Wittman made his first starting lineup change of the season, with Crawford and Jan Vesely on the floor at tipoff instead of Trevor Booker and rookie Bradley Beal. The Wizards have yet to play this season with John Wall (knee) or Nene (foot), although Nene has resumed practicing with the team.
The change didn't alter the final result for the Wizards, who remain overmatched and inconsistent as the only winless team in the NBA. Utah presented a great chance for a win – the Jazz entered the game 1-6 on the road and were playing the second half of a back-to-back following a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday – but Washington was outhustled, outrebounded (60-44) and again couldn't get to the free-throw line nearly enough. Utah also took 27 free throws to Washington's 12.
NOTES: The teams combined for the same number of turnovers as made baskets (12) in the first quarter. ... The Memphis Grizzlies are the only other franchise with back-to-back 0-8 starts, accomplishing the dubious feat in 2001-02 and 2002-03, according to STATS, LLC. ... Shaun Livingston, signed on Thursday, made his Wizards season debut, scoring four points in 17 minutes. ... Awkward timing: Wizards fans were cheering during the final minute of the loss because of a chicken sandwich giveaway promotion.