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Jazz break losing streak, down hapless Wizards 103-88

Published March 17, 2009 11:25 pm

Utah bounces back from road-trip losses against a shorthanded Washington.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As far as luck goes on St. Patrick's Day, the Jazz couldn't have been more fortunate that the schedule brought the undermanned Washington Wizards to town Tuesday night, just in time to snap their three-game losing streak.

By their own admission, the Jazz would have struggled to beat almost any other team the way they played. Instead, they built a 21-point lead in the third quarter, had seven players score in double figures and disposed of the Wizards 103-88.

After closing their five-game trip with disappointing losses to Atlanta, Miami and Orlando, the Jazz (42-26) gained a measure of confidence back at EnergySolutions Arena, where they have now won 12 consecutive games.

"We wanted to show people that we're going to continue to fight," said Brevin Knight, who had four points, two steals and an assist in 20 minutes, his most extensive action since a Feb. 23 victory over Atlanta.

"You have a big winning streak and you get somewhat of a losing streak and people tend to want to write you off. We're not one of those teams. We're going to keep fighting. We'll be there in the end."

Kyle Korver led the Jazz with 15 points on his 28th birthday, Deron Williams had 12 points, eight assists and eight turnovers, Carlos Boozer had 13 points and 15 rebounds and Ronnie Brewer scored 13 off the bench after showing up late to shootaround.

Playing without Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood, the Wizards (16-52) shot 35.6 percent -- worst by a Jazz opponent this season -- and got four points in 45 minutes out of starting guards Dominic McGuire and Mike James.

"I don't think it was our best effort," said Williams, who joked about flirting with his first triple-double with so many turnovers, "but we did what we had to do. They play a lot of different guys, different lineups, so it's tough to match up with a team like that."

"Obviously, playing at home helped us," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan added, "and it's a good thing because we didn't play especially well tonight. They were struggling in their game a little bit and missed some shots, they missed a lot of shots."

After getting ejected only 2:12 into Sunday's loss to Orlando, Sloan called timeout 47 seconds into Tuesday's game. He watched Williams commit two turnovers and miss a jumper, Darius Songaila score inside and felt his players were ignoring the scouting report.

"If we're going to go out and you're going to do what you want to do," Sloan said, "and then another guy does what he wants to do, or blame this on somebody else when it's actually my fault, that's a terrible thing to happen."

But the Jazz regrouped in time to lead 25-15 after the first quarter, with the Wizards having made only 5 of 24 shots. They stayed in front 46-36 at the half, then pulled away with a 9-0 run in the third quarter.

Williams had two highlight plays in the game, the first coming as he split two defenders and dunked over Andray Blatche in the first quarter. He capped the third-quarter run by lobbing an alley-oop pass from beyond midcourt to C.J. Miles for a reverse dunk.

"I was kind of surprised to see him that open," Williams cracked. "That means he wasn't rebounding."

After so long on the road, Korver said the altitude got to him in the first half. Much like Korver, the Jazz were able to find their rhythm at the end of the third quarter, with Williams hitting Andrei Kirilenko for a jumper and driving past Javaris Crittenton for a layup.

Knight enabled Williams to sit out the entire fourth quarter, pulling up for two jumpers after the Jazz had seen their lead shrink to 13. Knight also made a nice play in the first quarter, stripping Crittenton and hitting Paul Millsap on the break for a layup.

"It feels good to get out and play," said Knight, a 12-year veteran who has averaged 13.5 minutes a game. "It's been a little while. I kind of had to change my focus this year and understand that the minutes would be a little bit sparse.

"This is the first time in my career having to deal with it, but you adjust to situations. You do what you have to do to help a team win. Right now, that's what my role calls for."

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Storylines

In short » The Jazz snap their three-game losing streak with a victory over the Wizards.

Key moment » Deron Williams hits C.J. Miles for an alley-oop reverse dunk to make it 64-43 in the third quarter.

Key stat » Washington shoots 35.6 percent.