- The Washington Times - Monday, March 5, 2001

JAZZ 118, WIZARDS 98

At MCI Center, maybe the song should go "Thanks for calling the dogs off."

With 17,427 braving the nasty weather, the playoff-bound Utah Jazz battered the disjointed Washington Wizards into submission early with their usual suspects and cruised to a 118-98 win.

And the game was not as close as the score indicated.

In dropping their seventh game in a row, the Wizards were beaten in every aspect from start to finish. Utah expended precious little energy in the process.

The Wizards (13-47) not only lost another game, but they lost a player. Starting point guard Chris Whitney suffered a sprained left ankle and did not play in the second half. Shooting guard Richard Hamilton was ejected from the game with 3:22 left when he was whistled for his second technical foul.

Utah's key players didn't stay around much longer.

After getting 22 minutes each from Jazz starters Karl Malone, John Stockton and Donyell Marshall, coach Jerry Sloan perhaps feeling sympathy for the Wizards pulled them from the game and entrusted the outcome to other Utah players.

Malone led the way with 20 points. His longtime partner in crime, Stockton, handed out 12 assists without a turnover, and Marshall, who has been the team's biggest surprise since it picked him up as a free agent last summer, finished with 19.

Sloan probably could have pulled them earlier, considering Utah's biggest lead of the game 68-40 was established with 9:47 left in the third quarter. With just five minutes left in the second quarter, Utah (40-18) was already sitting atop a 20-point lead.

However, the most telling statistic was the 40 assists Utah handed out, compared to just 19 for Washington. This, according to Wizards coach Leonard Hamilton, was an indication of just how bad his team was yesterday.

"This is probably the lowest point we've been all year," Hamilton said. "Allowing a team to shoot 59 percent speaks for itself. But they had 40 assists, and we just had 19. That's virtually unheard of. We allowed circumstances to affect us more emotionally than at any time. Today we were distracted by a lot of things."

Mitch Richmond led the Wizards with 22 points. However, he shot just 8-for-21 from the field.

After the game, though, he didn't want to hear what Hamilton had to say about the team's lack of concentration.

"Let him say what he wants to say," Richmond said. "I don't have anything to say."

Center Jahidi White finished the game with 10 points and 10 rebounds. However, unlike Richmond, White agreed with Hamilton about the way the team played.

And he was not the only one. Hubert Davis, who came over from Dallas in the Juwan Howard trade, agreed that Washington was simply outclassed by a better team.

"Most definitely," Davis said when told of Hamilton's comments. "Today we kind of backed down defensively. It was almost to the point of giving up. There's no way a team can do that.

"It was a poor effort. They had 40 assists. That's incredible. If you are the Utah Jazz you're having a party. Maybe that's the example for us to strive for. They moved the ball on offense incredibly well. I mean, sometimes they passed up good shots and found a better one."

Considering Utah shot 59 percent from the floor, there's a lot of truth to that. The Wizards, meanwhile, made just 35 percent of their shots from the field.

Last night's loss marked the second time this season they have lost seven in a row. In addition, they have lost 13 of their last 14 games.

It is supposed to get better in the future, but hardly any of these guys will be around when that day does come. Even if some of them are, that is no consolation for the beating they seem to take almost on a nightly basis.

"You can't focus on a couple of years from now," White said. "What is going on now is what's going on now. And what's going on now is kind of miserable."

Note Rookie forward Mike Smith, reacquired by the Wizards on Friday after being released Feb. 22, scored 11 points in his first NBA game.


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