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Wizards keep coming back, but can't finish rally vs. Jazz

Published January 23, 2013 10:44 pm

NBA • Washington narrows Jazz's lead to two in fourth quarter.
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Washington trailed by 22 points in the second quarter Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz.

The Wizards fought back.

Washington trailed by 21 points late in the third quarter at high-altitude EnergySolutions Arena.

The Wizards fought back.

Washington trailed by eight points with three minutes remaining against one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference.

The Wizards fought back.

Even though the Jazz eventually escaped a 92-88 victory, it's understandable why Washington coach Randy Wittman was pleased with the determination displayed by his player.

"Each timeout, [we said], 'Let's get it from 22 to 15. Let's get it to 10. Let's keep plugging away,' " Wittman said.

Washington did more than plug away.

The Wizards closed within two points twice in the fourth quarter before their comeback stalled.

"We got back in it," Wittman said. "I can't be displeased about that."

In his seventh game back from knee surgery, point guard John Wall finished with 14 points and eight assists in 28 minutes.

Wall led Washington, which shot only 29.8 percent in the first half and 36 percent in the game.

"We got some good shots through the offense," Wittman said. "But I think guys tried to make it stop by themselves. We got into a little non-ball movement.

"... One thing I told them was, 'If you miss open shots through ball movement in your offense, you have to keep doing that.'

"We'll take the open shots. We can't regress and say, 'I'll do it by myself.' We got into a little bit of that in the first half. But they kept in it."

Wall agreed.

"The first half," he said, "we really got away from the way we played on this road trip. ... The second half, we kept fighting. We gave ourselves a chance [but] missed a couple of easy shots. We just didn't execute down the stretch."

Washington dropped to 5-3 in its last eight games, including 2-3 on the road trip.

The Wizards won in Denver and Portland and lost by a total of 12 points to Utah, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Clippers.

"It was good — a good trip," Wittman said. "The last eight games, I thought, we've brought a good solid brand of basketball. We have to continue to build on that and not take any steps backward."

Asked if his team seemed weary at the end of its long journey, Wittman shrugged.

"You never know," he said. "Everybody plays the same amount of games — the same amount of road games. Are we tired a little bit? Probably. But the good thing about it is we didn't give in to it. We kept fighting to give ourselves a chance."

Said A.J. Price, who finished with 10 points, "It was a good fight-back by us but a bad job of coming out right from the start and being ready to play. If we had come out at the start and been ready to play, it probably would have been a much different game."




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