- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY | Antawn Jamison was quiet by his standards. Caron Butler was in street clothes.

So the Wizards needed someone to step up for some additional offense as they started a four-game Western Conference road trip Tuesday. Of course, the one player in the process of putting together a good night got hurt.

Darius Songaila’s collision with Andray Blatche only produced a stinger, and Songaila returned to the game. The fact that it wasn’t serious may have been the brightest spot of the Wizards’ 103-88 loss to the Utah Jazz.

“Too much good offensive execution by the Jazz,” Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said. “We told our guys [the Jazz] were going to execute their offense and we needed to be just as efficient. …

“Lesson learned. You have to maintain your defensive principles and defensive integrity.”

A team overcoming its injuries to make a run at a division title, Utah (42-26) pulled within a game of Denver for the Northwest Division lead and snapped a three-game losing streak.

Washington (16-52) lost its 28th road game - worst in the Eastern Conference.

After opening up an 11-point lead in the first quarter, Utah blew the game open in the third, pushing a lead that fluctuated in the 10-point range up to 17.

Jamison, looking for his third consecutive 30-point game, missed 11 of his first 15 shots and finished with 13.

With Butler sidelined for at least the start of the trip, the Wizards knew they would need more production of out someone to stay competitive.

Songaila scored eight of his 10 points in the first half. He was the Wizards’ leading scorer when he and Blatche bumped into each other while going for a defensive rebound. It followed a familiar pattern for Washington.

“We’re so used to it by now,” Tapscott said. “You ever read John Feinstein’s book ‘Next Man Up’? It’s a football book, but I’m going to make it required reading. You have to stand up and play.

“Darius going out gave [Oleksiy Pecherov] a chance to play, and I thought he did a pretty good job. You have to understand that your number may be called at any time.”

The Wizards got a bit of a boost from a brief second-quarter spurt by Nick Young and some fourth-quarter highlights from Juan Dixon (a team-high 14) and Pecherov (13) but not much else.

Meanwhile, Utah did what it had to do to recover from its losing streak: Put the game away as early as possible.

The Jazz turned an 11-10 lead into 19-10 and were never challenged after that. While Washington couldn’t find scorers, Utah’s balance bordered on spectacular.

Six players combined to score the Jazz’s first 25 points and eight for the first 37.

When it was over, Utah had seven players in double figures, taking the pressure off Deron Williams, who left Sunday’s game with a leg injury, and Mehmet Okur, who was listed as a game-time decision with an ankle injury.

Kyle Korver led the Jazz with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Washington outrebounded Utah 49-44 but shot just 35.6 percent from the field.

“I thought the defense was solid the first half, and then they wore us down,” Tapscott said. “That ends up being the story of the game. When Utah gets a 20-point lead, they’ve got you.”

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