Whether it’s on the court or off, the Washington Wizards continue to be a disappointment.
With the legal fate of suspended star Gilbert Arenas(notes) on a felony gun charge having been resolved, the Wizards try to snap their franchise-high 14-game losing streak Saturday night against the visiting Utah Jazz.
Washington (21-50) lost 107-96 at Charlotte on Friday, hours after the club learned Arenas was ordered to spend 30 days in a halfway house for bringing guns into the locker room in December.
“We always have something going on with our team,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. “It’s just one thing after another.”
Highlighted by the Arenas decision, it was another dark day for a franchise that will miss the playoffs for a second straight season while ownership remains in flux following the death of longtime owner Abe Pollin in November.
“Gilbert has admitted his mistakes and will now pay his debt to our community,” said the statement issued by president Ernie Grunfeld and Pollin’s family. “We now look forward to moving on and focusing on building this team into the contender.”
The Wizards appear a long way from reaching that goal.
They haven’t won since beating New Jersey - the only team worse than them in the Eastern Conference - on Feb. 28. Washington has shot 43.1 percent and averaged 87.1 points during its skid, and allowed Charlotte to shoot a season-high 55.4 percent Friday.
“I told our guys we can’t look behind us and say we’ve lost 13, 14,” Saunders said. “We’ve got to look at the next game as a way to get better. Whether you like it or not, we haven’t been favored to win any games in the 14 games that we’ve played.”
Washington won’t be favored Saturday as it tries to avoid a third straight loss to Utah (47-26), which is in fourth place in the West.
Blatche, a fifth-year forward, has emerged as the Wizards’ top player since Arenas was suspended in January and fellow stars Antawn Jamison(notes) and Caron Butler(notes) were traded last month. Though he was benched during Tuesday’s home loss to the Bobcats after arguing with Saunders, Blatche is averaging 22.0 points in 21 games since becoming a full-time starter.
The Jazz are in a much better position than the Wizards, but allowed their highest point total of the season in a 122-106 loss at Indiana on Friday that snapped a three-game winning streak.
Mehmet Okur(notes) had 27 points with 12 rebounds, Carlos Boozer(notes) added 22 with 11 boards and Deron Williams(notes) had 21 with 12 assists, but the Jazz blew a 12-point third-quarter to fall for the fourth time in five road games.
“I just thought we would come with more energy,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “Our defense was non-existent.”
Utah has played well on the defensive end against the Wizards, who have averaged 90.5 point and shot 38.9 percent while losing five of the last six matchups.
Boozer had 23 points and Williams added 17 with 11 assists against Washington last week.