After a five-game absence from the Washington Wizards starting lineup due to a leg injury, Bradley Beal got the “all clear” to return on Sunday, and made the most of the opportunity.

But his strong 25-point showing wasn’t enough for the Wizards (13-26) against one of the hottest teams in the league, the Utah Jazz (27-12), as they fell 127-116 in D.C. on Sunday night.

Afterward, No. 3 noted how happy he was just to hit the floor with his guys again.

“It felt good,” Beal said. “The biggest thing is just being out there with my teammates. Just being able to get a rhythm, get up and down. (It) felt good for sure.”

Fans, as a reminder, don’t forget to show your support for Bradley and his stellar season, one worthy of an All-Star nomination. Vote!

As the game got underway in D.C., Brad looked ready to roll, showing no signs of rust early, despite the 11-day absence. He knocked down his first two shots, using the glass on both — first on a fadeaway and later on a layup — as he helped Washington keep pace with the streaking Utah team in the opening minutes.

The Panda wound up scoring eight of the team’s first 12 points before he was moved from the game halfway through the first due to a minutes restriction on his return.

Despite his early efforts, the Wiz fell behind early. But trailing by five late in the first, Washington closed the frame on a 26-10 run and led 34-23 after one.

As a team, the Wizards shot 16-25 (.640) from the field in the first, but missed their only 3-point field goal attempt, becoming the first team this season to score 34 points or more in the first quarter without hitting a 3-pointer.

Washington stayed hot in the second quarter, opening their lead up to as many as 15, and when No. 3 returned to the court exactly halfway through the frame, the Wiz still led by 12. A few minutes after returning to the floor, Brad got back into the act with a finger roll layup and later added a turnaround jumper to push the lead back to 12. However, Utah matched Washington’s second-quarter production thanks to a combined 24 points from Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles. Bogdanovic went on to finish with a game-high 31 points on 12-23 (.521) shooting.

As a result of the second quarter stalemate, the Wizards lead sat at 11 at the half.

When the teams returned to the court to start the second half, it appeared as though some of Brad’s adrenaline from his return to the lineup had worn off and some signs of rust began to show. He missed his first two shots of the frame as the Jazz chipped away at the lead. But after stepping to the line to shoot a technical free throw and seeing the ball go through the hoop, The Panda got back to it with back-to-back buckets sandwiched around a Utah turnover to push the lead up to 15.

But the Wizards went cold from there, failing to score for the next three-and-a-half minutes as the Jazz went on a 15-0 run to tie the game. BB was removed from the game due to his minutes restriction during that run and Utah surged to a 93-91 lead after three.

“Our aggression on both ends of the floor kind of slipped,” Brad said of the third quarter swing. “They made some tough shots, obviously. But we did a lot of things we could’ve controlled like turning the ball over. We got a lot of one-pass shots, no-pass shots and we were kind of slow pushing the pace. Defensively, we weren’t as engaged. There was a second-half slip for sure.”

Ultimately, it was continued poor shooting down the stretch when it mattered most that cost the Wizards. Down by two entering the fourth, the Wizards against went cold from deep, hitting just 1-7 (.143) from beyond the arc in the game’s final 12 minutes. Despite playing only half the frame, No. 3 did score eight points in the fourth and helped them mount one last surge.

Down 11 with 6:25 left in the game, the Wizards went on a 10-2 run capped by a driving layup from Bradley that cut the lead down the three with 3:32 on the clock. However, that was as close as it would get. AA pair of dunks by Rody Gobert and a back-breaking triple by Ingles put the Jazz back out in front by eight.

The Panda had two more buckets, each cutting the deficit to just five, but the Wiz couldn’t get the stops they needed on defense and ultimately succumbed to the Jazz.

However, Washington looked to the positives after the loss. In addition to getting Brad back, big man Thomas Bryant also returned after missing nearly six weeks with a stress reaction in his right foot. Bryant, who hadn’t played since December 1, went 4-6 (.667) shooting in limited time off the bench. Beal and Bryant joined Davis Bertans, who returned Friday against Atlanta, in reinforcing a Wizards’ rotation that has been shorthanded for weeks.

“I’ve been working hard since this injury,” Bryant said. “Literally the next day I’m trying to condition on the bike and trying to get my body right. For me to be able to come out and play for my teammates today felt great. For them to accept me from the start felt great as well.”

For the Wizards, getting players healthy and reinforcing their depth couldn’t come at a better time. Their reserves have helped carry the load over the last month with over seven players out of the lineup at a time. On Sunday, the reserves produced as they often do – combining for 59 points, led by 18 points from Bertans and 16 points from Jordan McRae. No with Beal, Bryant and Bertans all back in action and the team’s depth somewhat replenished, they look forward to making a run as the season heads toward the All-Star Break.

With players like McRae, Ish Smith and Troy Brown playing so well in his stead, Brad noted after the game that he wants to spend time figuring out how he can mesh with those players and make the team better as a whole.

“I don’t want to come back and ruin the flow that we have so we just have to go back to watching film tonight and see where we can get better. We got off to a good start [Sunday] but how can we maintain that and what can I be better at,” he said. “Troy is going to be fine. He’s constantly growing. It’s good that he’s had the opportunity these past couple weeks to be kind of thrown in the fire and kind of just go. He’s taking advantage of it, and we’re going to need him.”

The Wizards have two days off before a two-game road trip featuring matchups against the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors. The Wizards take on Chicago on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. and Toronto on Friday at 7:00 p.m. before returning to D.C. to face the Pistons next Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at 2:00 p.m.