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Preview: The Wizards head to Utah looking for back-to-back wins over the West

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The Wizards (12-20) return in Phoenix with a combined 56 points from Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma, helping them clinch a 10-game winning streak. Now, they’re looking to build on that momentum as they head to Utah to take on the Flex Jazz (18-16) Thursday night.

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whereVivint Arena (Salt Lake City, Utah)
when: 9:00 p.m. ET
television: NBC Sports Washington Plus & NBA TV
radio: The Team 980 & The Wizards App

wizards:
Christaps Porzingis (Non-COVID Illness – Doubtful)
Dillon Wright (right hamstring torn outward)

Jazz:
Kelly Olynyk (left ankle sprained outward)
Colin Sexton (right hamstring strain – questionable)

In his two matches since returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly seven games, Bale has looked as sharp as ever. In his first game, he scored 29 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field to go along with three assists and two rebounds. The Wizards beat the Lakers.

Then, in his second game, he struggled with his shooting in the first half, scoring just 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field. But, when it really mattered, he turned it on like superstars do. He scored 25 points in the final two quarters and led the Wizards to their first victory in over 20 days.

Bell’s ability to create an offense out of thin air is rare and arguably the most important tool a professional basketball player can have in his bag. Can he use this tool to lead the Wizards to a second straight win?

The Jazz have been one of the most surprising teams in the NBA this season. After trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in the offseason, many NBA fans thought they would have trouble replicating the success they had in recent seasons. However, they did find a spark thanks to sound team play and the inspiring performance of 25-year-old big man Lauri Markkanen.

The 7 footer from Finland averages 22.8 career points in .534/.438/.830 to go along with 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists. In the Jazz’s last game on Tuesday against the Pistons, Markkanen played one of his best games of the season. He scored 38 points and shot 13 of 20 from the field and 9 of 13 from deep.

Markkanen is the Jazz’s day and night offensive leader. If the Wizards’ frontcourt can make life difficult for him, it will be difficult for Jazz to find rhythm as a team.

Rui Hachimura is back in action

Rui Hachimura has been suffering from an ankle injury for a few weeks. He last appeared in a game on November 18 as he had 13 points, eight boards and three assists in 28 minutes.

Now, Hachimura is set to go back to court against Jazz. As a leading scorer off the bench, a solid defender on the team, and one of the most versatile athletes on the team, the Wizards have sorely missed out on being on the court. It’ll be interesting to see where he fits into the spin right off the bat and how healthy he looks when he’s running up and down the field in a real game. For wizards to be the best they can be, they will need Hachimura to be a constant contributor.

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