Washington (21-43) at Utah (42-24)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Salt Lake City, UT
Temp: 29° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EDT Mon Mar 15, 2010
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A four-game road trip seemed to wear the Utah Jazz down. Their schedule, though, hasn’t been nearly as grueling as the Washington Wizards’.

In danger of losing three straight for the second time this season, the Jazz return home Monday night to face a Wizards team that will continue a grueling stretch.

Utah (42-24) has lost back-to-back games for the first time since a season-worst three-game skid from Dec. 31-Jan. 4. After winning their previous four, the Jazz stumbled down the stretch of their trip.

Despite shooting 57.9 percent (11 for 19) from 3-point range, Utah lost 119-111 to Oklahoma City on Sunday night in a matchup of teams jockeying for playoff position in the Western Conference. The Jazz are in fourth place, one-half game ahead of the Thunder.

Injuries certainly didn’t help Utah’s cause. Center Mehmet Okur(notes) (back) and forward Andrei Kirilenko(notes) (calf) were missing from the starting lineup, and the pair are questionable for this game.

“There’s nothing you can do about it,” Jazz forward Carlos Boozer(notes) said. “It happens at this point in the season. We’re all banged up a little bit, some guys a little banged up more than others.”

Okur was held out after playing a season-high 41 minutes in a 95-87 loss to Milwaukee on Friday night. Kirilenko left that game in the second half.

Okur and Kirilenko are the team’s third- and fourth-leading scorers, respectively, combining for 25.0 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. Paul Millsap(notes) started for Okur and C.J. Miles(notes) took Kirilenko’s spot.

Wesley Matthews(notes), who has started 13 straight games since Ronnie Brewer(notes) was traded to Memphis on Feb. 18, is coming off an outstanding game. The undrafted rookie guard made six 3-pointers and scored a season-high 29 points.

Matthews is shooting 56.0 percent (14 for 25) from beyond the arc over his last 11 games. He poses a tough challenge for a perimeter defense on a team that has gotten little rest.

Washington, which has lost a season-high seven straight, had Sunday off after wrapping up a stretch of three games in three nights, including a road game in the middle.

This week wont’ get any easier for the Wizards. After spending Sunday traveling, they’re playing on consecutive nights, including a matchup against Denver on Tuesday evening, to open a four-game road trip.

Coach Flip Saunders called it “ridiculous” that Washington will have only one day off at the end of that trip.

“I guess it’s like that commercial,” Saunders said. “‘Give it to Mikey. He’ll eat it, he’ll do anything.’”

Saunders has had plenty to be upset about in his first season with the Wizards. JaVale McGee’s(notes) effort raised Saunders’ ire following a 109-95 loss to Orlando on Saturday.

The second-year center, starting for the 13th time this season, had five points on 1-of-6 shooting and three rebounds - all on the offensive end.

“You can’t have a starting center not get a defensive rebound,” Saunders said.

Saunders, though, has to be pleased with the development of 6-foot-11 Andray Blatche(notes), who had 32 points. Blatche is averaging 24.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in 14 games since joining the starting lineup.

Blatche will likely be matched up with Boozer, who is averaging 22.4 points and shooting 65.7 percent in seven home games against the Wizards.

Utah and Washington each won at home in last season’s series. The Jazz have won 18 of 21 at home versus the Wizards.

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Monday, Mar 15