Jazz 103, Wizards 87
Mehmet Okur had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Deron Williams added 20 points and 12 assists, and Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 10 rebounds in Utah's 103-87 victory over Washington on Saturday night.
Washington has lost a team-record 15 straight games, and is 0-for-March. The last victory came on Feb. 28 against NBA-worst New Jersey.
Utah closed within a half-game of Denver for the Northwest Division lead. The Jazz are 29-9 since Jan. 9.
``We expected to be at the top of the West,'' guard Deron Williams said. ``Now, we're playing better basketball, and we've got a different confidence. We're a better team than we were three months ago.''
The Jazz couldn't have asked for a better opponent to regain their form after blowing a double-digit halftime lead and losing 122-106 to the Pacers on Friday night.
Andray Blatche led Washington with 20 points, and Nick Young had 16.
Utah took the lead for good late in the first quarter. The Jazz led 50-43 at halftime, and then took control in the third. Utah made 11 of its 14 shots in the period and outscored the Wizards 8-1 over the final 2 minutes of the quarter.
Boozer had a big dunk with a minute left, and Wesley Matthews converted a three-point play with less than a second left to give the Jazz a 80-65 lead going into the fourth quarter. Utah's lead never dipped below 10 the rest of the game.
The Jazz shot 59 percent from the field, the best mark for any team against the Wizards this season, and outrebounded Washington 45 to 34.
``Their bigs mauled our guys,'' Wizards coach Flip Saunders said.
Utah did all that without star forward Andrei Kirilenko, who sat out for the fifth time in six games with a left calf injury. Kirilenko missed four games before playing into the fourth quarter Friday. Kirilenko, averaging 11.9 points, said he would have an MRI exam on Sunday.
``We'd rather have him healthy come the playoff run,'' Boozer said.
The Wizards were also missing pieces. Guard Randy Foye missed the game with a sore wrist, and forward Al Thornton missed his second straight game with a right hip injury.
The injuries are just the latest in a string of troubles for Washington this year. Star guard Gilbert Arenas was sentenced Friday to 30 days in a halfway house and two years probation for a gun charge that led to him being suspended for the season. The Wizards traded away most of their other experienced players at the trade deadline, and the strongest player they got in return, Josh Howard, was injured after just four games with Washington.
After the latest loss, Saunders was asked if he's stepped back and thought about all the team has been through.
``If I did, I might not be here,'' Saunders said, joking. ``It's Murphy's Law right now. All we can do is try to keep on fighting.''
After losing their eighth straight home game, the Wizards now head out for two games on the road, where they've lost nine straight.
``Obviously, it's not any fun,'' said Mike Miller, who scored 14 points. ``It's frustrating, but no one feels sorry for us. I don't think you'll see Houston or New Orleans feel sorry for us and let us win.''
While the Wizards are simply trying to end a losing streak that has already nearly lasted an entire month, the Jazz are looking forward to the playoffs and trying to improve their position.
``We definitely watch the standings. As long as we take care of business, that will take care of itself,'' Boozer said.
NOTES: Wizards G Alonzo Gee will be signed for the rest of the season, Saunders said. Gee has been playing on his second 10-day contract. ... This was the final Eastern Conference road game for Utah. ... Jazz coach Jerry Sloan will turn 68 on Sunday. ... Utah has 10 wins in March.