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SALT LAKE CITY —- They were playing on the second night of a road-home back-to-back set, and for the fifth time in seven nights following a four-game road trip. No worries, though.
Not against a wilted Washington Wizards team playing for the fourth time in five nights — a scheduling quirk prompted by a game that had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather.
The Jazz beat the Wizards 112-89 Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena, handing Washington its eighth straight loss while avoiding what could have been a third consecutive loss of their own for the first time since a New Year's Eve/early January stretch against Oklahoma City, Denver and New Orleans.
"It's certainly great to come back after two losses, and come back and try to win a ballgame," said coach Jerry Sloan, whose Jazz have now won four straight at home vs. Washington.
"I didn't know what kind of energy we'd have," Sloan added, "(but) it was good to see our energy level real high."
Everyone who dressed scored for the 43-24 Jazz, and seven players scored in double-figures, topped by Carlos Boozer's team-high 23 points.
Deron Williams had a 17-point, 11-assist double-double (his fifth straight, and 35th this season) despite a sore left shoulder, rookie No. 3 point Sundiata Gaines finished with a career-high 15 and Mehmet Okur scored 14 with 6-for-7 field shooting despite a sore back.
"It's good to get back home," Boozer said after the Jazz's first outing in a stretch with 4-of-5 at home. "It was a long trip."
With victories at Chicago last Tuesday and Detroit last Wednesday, but losses at Milwaukee on Friday and Oklahoma City on Sunday, it certainly felt that way. Which is why 21-44 Washington — which hasn't won yet in March — became welcome elixir for the Jazz.
"We had two games on the road that we thought we could have won, but we didn't," Boozer said, "and nobody hung their head."
The Wizards did, though, especially after a 34-20 second quarter propelled the Jazz to a 59-45 halftime lead. "It's nice to get one that's a little bit easier," swingman Kyle Korver said. "I thought the second half took forever, though. That was the longest blowout ever."
Twelve of the Jazz's 31 third-quarter points came from the free-throw line, and by the time rookie shooting guard Wesley Matthews knocked down a 3-pointer with just more than a minute to go in the quarter Utah was up by a game- high 34 at 90-56.
The Jazz again were up by 34 following a Kyrylo Fesenko dunk early in the fourth, a quarter in which both Boozer and Williams were able to sit back, watch and enjoy. They mostly did their damage in the decisive second quarter, when Boozer shot 4-for-4 from the field and scored nine of his 23.
"I had juice, man. I just had juice," Boozer said. "You know, after you get warmed up and get going for the first quarter ... we came out in that second quarter and, I don't know everybody else, but, I had my second wind and was juiced up, ready to go, enjoyed it. And third quarter the same thing."
What the Jazz had to relish most was picking up a full game on Northwest Division-leader Denver, which after a two-point loss to Houston on Monday found itself tied with Dallas for second-best record in the West — two games ahead of Utah.
"We want to make a push and get the best seed we can in the playoff run," Gaines said.
"That's all that matters, man," Boozer added. "We take care of ourselves, and hopefully we get some guys ahead of us to stumble a little bit, may we can climb up a little bit."
Doing it, though, will require energy — especially in the toughest of times, and even in the best. "Honestly, man, we've got to stay focused," Boozer said. "I don't care what the situation is.
Everybody goes through a long season, everybody has to play 82 games and in a bunched-up period of times. "We've all got whatever we've got — 15 games in 30 days, or whatever it might be.
Everybody's in a similar situation, so we can't have any excuses, we can't feel sorry for ourselves."