- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

SALT LAKE CITY — The Washington Wizards sure know how to earn a halftime lead on the road. Keeping it, well, that bit still escapes them.

The Utah Jazz rallied from an 11-point deficit to defeat the Wizards 103-97 last night at EnergySolutions Arena.

Washington (37-32) finished its western swing 1-4 and led at halftime in all the losses.

The Wizards’ loss, combined with the Miami Heat’s win over Atlanta, puts Miami half a game ahead of Washington for first place in the Southeast Division.

The last time these teams met, it was Gilbert Arenas who put on a show, scoring 12 of his 51 points in the final 2:08 of Washington’s 114-111 win over Utah on Jan. 15. He ended that game with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, his seventh 3 of the night.

Last night, the Jazz kept Arenas in check while their power forward, Carlos Boozer, dominated the second half.

Boozer scored 36 of his career-high 41 points in the second half and finished 15-for-21 to lead the Jazz. He also had a game-high 16 rebounds.

Arenas finished with 32 points on 8-for-20 shooting, and former Utah guard DeShawn Stevenson had 21 points, two shy of his career high.

After five lead changes, the Jazz earned the lead for good when Mehmet Okur made two free throws with a minute to go putting Utah ahead 96-94.

Jazz guard Derek Fisher made his second 3-pointer of the night with 44.2 seconds to go, giving Utah a 99-95 lead.

The Jazz’s second-half effort was hauntingly familiar for the Wizards, whose road trip has been one long story of missed opportunities.

This time Washington led by six at the half and pushed its advantage to 11 points in the third with Arenas scoring from outside and Antawn Jamison cutting inside.

However, everything changed once Boozer found his shot. Boozer, who was 1-for-5 in the first half, scored 20 points in the third quarter. He scored 15 points in a row, including a 16-footer that tied the game at 64-64.

During Boozer’s scoring run Washington coach Eddie Jordan was ejected for arguing with officials. Fisher, an 85 percent free throw shooter, missed both technical free throws, one of many second-half opportunities the Jazz had to separate themselves from the Wizards. But they failed to do so until the final seconds.

Utah backup guard Dee Brown was charged with an offensive foul, and center Jarron Collins was charged with one early in the fourth, helping the Washington maintain a slim lead.

Boozer finally tied the game at 81-81 on a putback with 6:29 remaining.

Notes — Andray Blatche, who injured his knee in Saturday’s loss to the Clippers, was inactive along with Caron Butler. Blatche sprained his knee battling the Clippers’ Corey Maggette for a rebound. He had a MRI yesterday that was negative for more damage.

Darius Songaila got the start in Blatche’s place and scored 10 points.

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