Once again the Wizards had a chance to get over .500. And once again the Wizards lost. The Wizards' maddeningly inconsistent season continued as a night after taking down a very good Suns team, the Wizards fell to the last place team in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz, 104-101. The Wizards built a 13 point lead during the second quarter but they couldn't hold it for too long as the Jazz cut it to two by the half. The fourth quarter started off with the Jazz opening up an eight point lead as the Wizards could not find any offense, but the Wizards came back to cut it to as close as one. They had several chances to tie the game down the stretch but Beal and Ariza both missed threes which would have done the trick in the final 30 seconds. Wall had one final try from just inside the half court line but it rimmed out and the Jazz escaped with the victory.
Enes Kanter and Trevor Ariza were the men of the night for their respective teams. Kanter came off the bench to score 24 points on 11/13 shooting, leading the Jazz bench to 52 total points. Ariza had his second consectuive 20+ point night, finishing with 23 points on 8/14 shooting, including 6/10 from three point range. Wall (13 points) and Beal (14 points) struggled for Washington from the field as they combined to shoot just 9/30. Beal did tie his career high with eight assists though. Utah's exciting young backcourt duo of Hayward and Burke were not much better, finishing 9/26 combined. All five Wizards' starters did finish in double figures, as Nene had 19 and Gortat had a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards. - Jacob Raim
Another night, another city, another game. Tonight we come to you from Salt Lake City, Utah as the Wizards get set to take on the Jazz.
We got into SLC around 12:30am local time last night and even though everyone was a little tired, after a big win like the one the Wizards notched last night, the mood was pretty good.
From the plane last night:
But, now it's back to business for the Wizards and once again it's another chance at breaking that .500 mark. If you include opening night, the Wizards are 0-5 this season when they've had a chance to get over .500, with losses to the Bucks, Mavs, Celtics, and Pistons twice. The players have tried to brush off the questions when they're asked about it, but there's no question it's on the back of some of their minds. Once they finally get over that hurdle they won't have to hear about it anymore and can just focus on the games at hand. They have that chance tonight.
To get over .500, they'll have to beat a Utah Jazz team that has been playing a little bit better of late. After a horrid 1-14 start, they've gone 13-15 since and are 5-5 over their last ten. One big reason why is because they got rookie point guard Trey Burke back from injury and he has been opening up some eyes around the league. After leading the Michigan Wolverines to the National Championship game last March/April, Burke is averaging 13.5 points and 5.6 assists per game for Utah.
Randy Wittman talked about Burke and how important he is to this Jazz team:
Wittman also was asked about changing the team's gameplan based on the matchups, but he said he doesn't like to change too much based on who the team is playing. He said that his squad will impose their will on the opponent and doesn't want to get too tricky with tweaking strategy or matchups.
In the postgame locker room last night, Marcin Gortat told us that Utah was a house of horrors for him and he wanted to end that spell tonight. While Gortat must certainly remember his last trip here, when he shot 0-6 from the floor and finished with one point, before that he actually wasn't too bad. He had 14 points and 8 boards, then 12 points and 10 boards over the last couple of seasons here in Utah, so maybe it was just that last performance here that gave him a bad taste. See video:
On the injury front, Martell Webster warmed up during pregame warmups and is expected to be back in the lineup after missing last night's game with the fly. According to Steve Buckhantz, Martell may have just had a case of food poisoning, which often times is a 24 hours thing.
If Martell is back out there tonight, it will give a big lift to the bench, which was held to just 11 points last night without him. He spaces the floor and gives the Wizards the shooter that they need on that second unit.
Here is Martell getting shots up before the game:
The Wizards and Jazz start at 9pm ET tonight, and it's a weekend so we expect you to stay up late with us and follow along in the Live Chat! See you there.