After losing consecutive games for the first time in nearly two months, the Washington Wizards return to the Verizon Center on Monday to face the Utah Jazz, who are trying to end their worst losing streak of the season.
Washington (20-16) is coming off a 93-80 defeat to San Antonio on Saturday, which followed Friday’s 104-97 loss to New Orleans, giving the Wizards back-to-back defeats for the first time since they dropped four straight from Nov. 21-25.
Washington is 16-7 since that skid, and the Wizards have been tough to beat at home this season, going 14-3 at the Verizon Center. Washington has won seven in a row at home by an average of 11.4 points.
Saturday’s loss, though, marked one of the Wizards’ worst offensive performances of the season. They shot a season-low 31 percent (27-of-87), had just eight assists and tied their season low for points.
“We came out and it was just bad possession after possession, we couldn’t find that rim,” Gilbert Arenas said. “Our target was off.”
Coach Eddie Jordan was ejected during the third period when he came onto the court to argue with officials.
Arenas, second in the NBA in scoring at 29.7 yards per game, managed just 20 on 6-of-20 shooting. He also had three assists and five turnovers.
“Offensively we couldn’t get any flow. We got to the paint, missed layups, missed jump shots,” Butler said. “The shots we usually make. So we just got to tip our hat to them and get ready for the next challenge.”
Butler is averaging career highs of 20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He recorded his 15th double-double of the season Saturday.
“He’s a big part of our success, at both ends of the floor,” Jordan said. “Most of all, what he brings is an attitude. It’s a toughness. It’s an aggressive nature. It’s a confidence factor. It’s a swagger—they call it ‘swag’—that says: ‘It’s my time in my career to show that I am special.’”
Butler is averaging 15.2 points in 10 games against the Jazz (24-13), who are coming off a 119-110 loss to Miami on Saturday. The three-game losing streak is Utah’s longest of the season.
The teams combined to shoot 99 free throws, with Miami going 42-of-45 and Utah going 37-of-54. Carlos Boozer led the Jazz with 29 points and 14 rebounds. Matt Harpring added 18 points and Deron Williams had 19 points and five assists.
Utah pulled within seven early in the fourth quarter after trailing by 22 late in the third, but could get no closer.
“It looked to me like they walked the ball up the court every time and they come out of the ballgame with 119 points,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “We had 110 and we ran it up the court as hard as we could.”
Utah hasn’t lost four straight since a five-game skid from Nov. 12-19, 2005. The Jazz have dropped three of their last four at the Verizon Center.