Washington Wizards continue to struggle as they lose to Utah Jazz, their eighth straight defeat

Mike Miller, who scored 14 points for the Wizards, goes up against Utah defender Mehmet Okur. Washington played its fourth game in five nights.
Mike Miller, who scored 14 points for the Wizards, goes up against Utah defender Mehmet Okur. Washington played its fourth game in five nights. (Steve C. Wilson/associated Press)
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By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY -- For the first time in a while, the Washington Wizards faced an opponent that could relate to feeling a bit tired and fatigued. The Utah Jazz was set to play its fifth game in seven nights on Monday and was coming off a loss in Oklahoma City on Sunday. But Coach Flip Saunders wasn't concerned much about the plight of the Jazz, not with his team playing its fourth game in five nights after completing a rare back-to-back-to-back set two nights before.

"I'm not giving any sympathy to anybody," Saunders said with a chuckle before the game.

And of late, the Wizards' opponents certainly aren't feeling sorry for them. They just see an opportunity to get right and add another notch to the win column. The Jazz became the eighth consecutive team to victimize the Wizards as they won, 112-89, at Energy Solutions Arena.

Carlos Boozer led seven Jazz players in double figures with 23 points and Deron Williams had 17 points and 11 assists as the duo helped turn a five-point game into a 34-point romp in about 15 minutes. The Wizards trailed 44-39 with 4 minutes 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but Boozer scored nine points during a 15-6 run that ended the half, and Williams had nine points and four assists in the third period, dishing to Wesley Matthews for a three-pointer that gave the Jazz a 90-56 lead with 31 seconds left in the quarter.

"When those are one the same page and it's flowing, that's one of the hardest things to stop," Andray Blatche said after scoring a game-high 24 points. "One of those things that's unbreakable."

Williams turned the third period into his personal playground, as he uncorked several dazzling plays, including a zig-zag, behind-the-back shake-and-fake before making a layup. He also dropped a between-the-legs, behind-the-back pass to Mehmet Okur for long jumper. Williams later fired a pass to Boozer, who got bumped by Blatche as he simply threw the ball in the air and howled after it rolled in.

The Wizards shot just 3 of 22 (13.6 percent) and were outscored 31-15 in the third period. They couldn't respond with much, although Blatche tried with his mouth midway through the third. He dunked over Okur and leaned forward to taunt him. Problem was, the Wizards were trailing by 22 points at the time. Blatche picked up a technical on the play and fans started chanting, "Scoreboard! Scoreboard!"

The Wizards (21-44) remain winless in March and have lost eight games in a row for the first time since Dec. 11-25, 2008.

"We went through a stretch where we felt sorry for ourselves," Saunders said. "We've lost some close ones, we've lost some ones where we've got our butts kicked, but if you think things are just going to get better, it's not. Don't think it can't get any worse in this league."

Every player scored for the Jazz (43-24), which snapped a two-game losing streak.

Mike Miller had 14 points and Alonzo Gee had 10 off the bench for the Wizards, who will conclude a stretch of five games in six nights on Tuesday in Denver. They defeated the Nuggets by 10 points at Verizon Center on Feb. 18, but they no longer have Josh Howard, who suffered a season-ending knee injury three days later. Howard's absence has coincided with the Wizards losing 10 of their past 11 games -- the worst stretch since the team started last season 1-10.

"It's going to be another tough team, especially what we did to them at our place," Al Thornton said of the Nuggets after scoring just four points on 1-of-9 shooting. "Coach [George] Karl is going to have them amped up and they are going to be ready to get one. We just have to match their intensity from the jump."

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