Wizards-Jazz Preview

After a trying three-game stretch on the road, the Utah Jazz

return home to face one of the NBA’s worst teams.

The Jazz look to avoid a third straight loss Friday night when

they host the Washington Wizards.

Utah has played five of its last six games on the road,

including the last three in three nights. The Jazz opened that

stretch with a win over Memphis, but lost the next two against New

Orleans and Oklahoma City.

The Jazz (14-14) struggled in both defeats, scoring 80 points

against the Hornets and shooting 35.6 percent in a 111-85 defeat to

the Thunder on Tuesday. They scored 39 points in the first half,

with Al Jefferson scoring 13 of his team-high 15 before the

break.

“I’m not going to blame fatigue,” said starting forward Gordon

Hayward, who was held scoreless. “That’s just not acceptable.

“Whatever the reason was we’re professionals, so

back-to-back-to-back, that’s our job. We’ve got to be prepared and

we’ve got to be able to play.”

After being benched early in the fourth quarter of the loss to

the Hornets, the Jazz’s starters combined for just 41 points

Tuesday. Second-leading scorer Paul Millsap, who averages 15.6

points, was held to a combined 14 in the two losses.

Hayward’s scoreless night, meanwhile, came after an eight-point

outing against New Orleans. Starting point guard Devin Harris

played a season-low 15 minutes Tuesday, and totaled eight points

and five assists in the consecutive defeats.

After a surprising start, Utah has lost seven of nine to drop to

.500 for the first time since it was 3-3.

“We can’t panic,” coach Tyrone Corbin said Thursday. “We are

fortunate that we had a good run early. We were home for a lot of

games and we gave ourselves a little bit of a cushion and an

identity of who we want to be. We have an idea of who that should

be, we’ve just got to get back to doing that.”

Utah is 11-5 at home, although it has lost two of its last three

there.

While the Jazz were held to fewer than 90 points the last two

games, the offense could get going against a Wizards team that’s

allowed an average of 103.4 points in nine games this month.

But Washington (7-23), which lost its first eight road games, is

2-1 on a five-game trip. After beating Detroit by 21 and Portland

by 15, the Wizards fell 102-84 to the Los Angeles Clippers on

Wednesday.

John Wall and JaVale McGee each scored 18 points, but after

playing the night before, the Wizards shot 39.5 percent while

getting outrebounded 51-36. They gave up 19 offensive boards and

were outscored 52-37 in the second half.

“We have been playing better and competing, but we are not going

to make all of our shots all of the time,” coach Randy Wittman

said. “I don’t look at this game as an 18-point loss, we just ran

out of gas at the end.”

Washington swept last season’s series against Utah after the

Jazz won six of the previous seven meetings.

Wall, who has averaged 11.5 assists in his last four games and

scored 29 points against Portland, averaged 23.5 points and 11.0

assists in the two wins last season.