Washington (22-47) at Utah (36-34)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Salt Lake City, UT
Temp: 46° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Tue Mar 23, 2004
  • TV: WBDC
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Utah Jazz will look to continue their playoff push when they host the injury-plagued Washington Wizards.

Utah is right in the thick of a three-way battle with Portland and Denver for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Jazz split their season series with the Trail Blazers and have lost all three head-to-head meetings with the Nuggets.

Utah has helped itself of late by winning five of its last seven.

Raja Bell and Andrei Kirilenko each scored 18 points as the Jazz beat Atlanta 87-81 on Saturday.

“It’s a pretty good feeling,” said Kirilenko, who also had 10 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks. “Everybody can play good basketball and everybody can beat us, especially with a team that is right now out of the playoff picture. We have a pretty good group of guys right now and the chemistry is right.”

The Jazz visit Seattle on Wednesday before meeting Denver at the Delta Center next Saturday.

Before then, however, the Jazz hope to help themselves at the expense of the hobbled Wizards.

Washington point guard Gilbert Arenas sprained his right ankle during a 101-81 loss to Miami on Sunday.

The game also marked the return of shooting guard Larry Hughes from a broken left wrist.

“I guess it was my turn to get hurt this time,” said Arenas, who was wearing a protective boot on his foot. “Everybody took their share, and I guess it was my turn in line, so here I am.”

Sunday marked just the fourth game all season that Arenas, Hughes and Jerry Stackhouse—the team’s three leading scorers—had played together. Stackhouse has missed most of the season with knee problems, while Arenas had a lengthy layoff with an abdominal injury.

“One guy gets healthy; the next guy goes down,” said Steve Blake, who scored a career-high 21 points filling in for Arenas.

Etan Thomas had a career-high 16 rebounds for the Wizards, who committed 21 turnovers.

Hughes, who missed 19 games with the wrist injury, missed his first eight shots before finishing with eight points on 3-for-14 shooting.

STANDINGS (through March 21): Wizards - 6th place, 19 GB, Atlantic Division. Jazz - 6th place, 12 GB, Midwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Wizards - F Jared Jeffries, F Kwame Brown, C Brendan Haywood, G Hughes, G Blake. Jazz - F Kirilenko, F Tom Gugliotta, C Jarron Collins, G Carlos Arroyo, G Gordon Giricek.

TEAM LEADERS: Wizards - Arenas, 20.1 ppg and 5.4 apg; Brown, 7.5 rpg. Jazz - Kirilenko, 16.8 ppg and 8.1 rpg; Arroyo, 5 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Wizards, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 16; Wizards, 91-87. At Washington, Hughes went 14-for-16 from the free-throw line on his way to a season-high 38 points to lead the Wizards. Kirilenko had 17 points and eight rebounds for the Jazz.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wizards - 6-26 on the road; Jazz - 23-11 at home.

INJURIES: Wizards - G Arenas (ankle); G Chris Whitney (ankle). Jazz - F Matt Harpring (knee); C Curtis Borchardt (wrist).

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