SALT LAKE CITY, NOV. 24 -- Displaying a somewhat improved style but nevertheless lacking substance, the Washington Bullets lost their fifth straight game, 100-83, to the Utah Jazz tonight at the Salt Palace.

Playing at a severe height disadvantage, the Bullets were able to stay close to the Jazz before falling prey to a horrendous fourth quarter. The visitors missed their first seven shots from the field and didn't score a basket in the period until just 4:45 remained.

Utah used a 15-3 run during the Bullets' shooting slump to turn a four-point lead into a rout. The Bullets scored only 13 points in the final period.

Washington (2-8) will try again Wednesday night against the Clippers in Los Angeles.

Utah forward Karl Malone led all scorers with 22 points and former Bladensburg High School star Thurl Bailey had 18 points and 14 rebounds before a sellout of 12,212. Moses Malone had 17 points, Jeff Malone 14 and John Williams 14 for the Bullets.

Although the loss fell right into line with the Bullets' 19-point defeat at Portland and 21-point loss at Seattle in the opening two games of the team's four-game swing through the Western Conference, there was definitely improvement in several areas.

Shooting, however, wasn't among them. For the game, Washington hit only 31 of 92 shots -- 34 percent. And the Bullets kept missing shots after well-executed plays.

"If we weren't playing hard, I'd feel like the players had let me down, but we are playing hard," said Bullets Coach Kevin Loughery. "I'm upset with some individual performances; it gets frustrating, very frustrating. We're getting what we want in terms of executing the play but we're not getting the end result -- a basket or a foul."

The Bullets made one lineup change before tonight's game, inserting Charles Jones at power forward in place of John Williams. The move worked on two levels: Jones blocked four shots and improved the team's interior defense and Williams (eight rebounds) elevated the play of Washington's second unit, which had one of its best outings of the season.

The Bullets shot 28 percent in the first quarter and fell behind, 24-18. In the second period, Bullets assistant Wes Unseld got the first technical of his coaching career as the Bullets continued to shoot poorly. At the half, Utah led, 54-45.

Washington, though, played well in the opening minutes of the second half. The Bullets led, 64-61, with 4:18 remaining in the third period before a 13-6 run put the Jazz on top by 74-70 going into the final 12 minutes. Earlier in the game, Utah had runs of 17-5 and 16-5; the scoring outbursts have become something of a Jazz trademark. Undefeated at home this season, Utah had rallied in the previous five games here on the strength of second-quarter runs that totaled 97-11.

Tonight the big burst didn't come until the beginning of the fourth quarter. Frank Johnson hit two free throws for Washington with 11:11 to play to open the scoring but those would be the Bullets' last points until a free throw by Bernard King with 7:45 remaining.

"The Jazz have a very good defensive team," Loughery said. "They have Eaton in the middle who blocks shots, and the rest of them are very active, especially Bailey tonight."

"Defensively, we were really getting after it, especially in the fourth quarter," said Utah Coach Frank Layden. "Mark Eaton had some nice blocks and I thought Thurl played excellent defense; he was right up in his guy's face and forcing them to change the trajectory in some of their shots."

That was a constant in tonight's game. The biggest team in the NBA -- with six players standing 6-foot-9 or taller -- Utah was able to block 10 shots. At one point, Layden fielded a lineup of the 7-3 Eaton at center, with Darryl Dawkins and Bailey -- both just under 7 feet -- at the forwards. At the time, Washington countered with 6-10 Moses Malone, 6-8 Mark Alarie and the 6-9 Williams.

Of course, these days, a team's height doesn't really concern the Bullets as much as their inability to score.

"Forget about parts of the game, when you get 80 shots {actually 92}, you have to win," Malone said after his six-for-15 shooting night. "I can't pinpoint why we're not scoring; I think we have to be more aggressive, keep the floor spread out and when we get the shot, we have to take it."

Taking the shots has not been the problem; making them has, a problem that Loughery and King have been unable to figure out.

"We really shot the ball poorly," Loughery said. "We went through the fourth period with only two points for a long time and only hit four field goals in the entire quarter. If you're going to win, you're going to have to score, and scoring has been a real deficiency on this road trip."

"If I could, believe me, I'd provide the answer and a solution," King said after going missing all six of his first-half shots and finishing three of 14. "Quite naturally, it's frustrating for all concerned. We're just not playing well, period, but I firmly believe that we're going to be able to turn this around."