Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/17/12
WASHINGTON -- Minutes after the Wizards' latest loss, Randy Wittman moved into position before waiting reporters and a bank of cameras. The Wizards coach paused before starting his postgame comments, staring at the final box score, literally scratching his head in apparent disbelief. Matching the ignominious record for worst start in franchise history will have that effect. Washington fell to 0-8 for the second straight season as Al Jefferson tallied 21 points and 13 rebounds and the Utah Jazz pulled away in the fourth quarter for an 83-76 win on Saturday night. The Jazz (5-6), only 1-6 on the road entering the nation's capital, grabbed 26 offensive rebounds, held Washington to 13 points in the fourth quarter and 36.5 percent (31 of 85) shooting overall from the field. The NBA's only winless team, Washington began the game with a new starting lineup for the first time this season, one that opened the game on a 15-2 run. The Wizards led by eight points in the third quarter, but ultimately succumbed to their own suspect shooting and Utah's size advantage. "As a coach you try to think of different things. You try and find some semblance of balance," Wittman said. "We don't have any balance right now. In a perfect world, I'd like eight or nine guys and play them every night. Know when they're coming in, who's starting, who's coming off the bench. "I'm sometimes right now not knowing who's going to play tonight, who's up, who's down. We just don't have the consistency really of anybody. We're getting good looks at the basket. We had a two-foot airball. We got to play relaxed, we've got play confident." Utah's starting frontcourt of Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors each grabbed at least 10 rebounds as the Jazz finished with a 60-44 rebounding advantage. Making his first start of the season, Jordan Crawford led the Wizards with 20 points and Trevor Ariza had 16, all in the first half. Ahead 69-67 early in the final quarter of a back-and-forth game, Favors' bank shot triggered a decisive 11-2 run for Utah and Millsap's running jumper extended the lead to 80-69 with 2:23 remaining. After Crawford's jumper with 6:17 remaining in the fourth, the Wizards' next basket didn't come until 19 seconds remained. Held to four points at halftime, Jefferson's low-post moves dominated the third quarter as Utah's burly center knocked down 8 of 12 shots for 17 points. He scored Utah's first five points of the second half for a 43-40 lead. After the Wizards zoomed ahead 53-45, Jefferson scored eight of the Jazz' final 12 in the quarter and Utah led 65-63. "We started the game off 11-0. We couldn't afford to start the third quarter off like that," Jefferson said. "I just had to get it going, make some shots. Shots were falling for me. The team kept going to me. Once we had the lead, we held on to it." Gordon Heyward added 15 points for the Jazz. Both teams altered their starting lineups, though only the Wizards benefited initially, jumping out to the 13-point lead behind seven early points from Ariza. Forward Jan Vesely and Crawford made their first starts for the Wizards while Favors and Randy Foye, who replaced Hayward, did the same for Utah. Playing on consecutive nights and completing a four-game road swing, the Jazz missed their opening nine shots from the field before closing the clank-filled first quarter on a 13-2 run. The teams combined to shoot 12 of 40 (30 percent) during the non-aesthetically pleasing first quarter, with Washington maintaining a 17-15 lead. "A team like that likes to make the game ugly," Millsap said. "They made it ugly from the start." Wittman agreed with Millsap's take, though for a different reason. "First quarter we should have been up by 10 or more. The defense we played in the first quarter, hold them to 15 but we only score 17. That's sometimes the difference in the game. It's not necessarily always the last five," the frustrated coach said. By the end of yet another defeat, scattered boos rained down from the remaining crowd of 16,210. "It's acceptable. We're 0-8,"Crawford said. "We can't get down on ourselves. We still got to play the games, still got a lot of games to go. Teams aren't going to come in here and make it easy on us." NOTES: Crawford replaced guard Bradley Beal, the Wizards' first-round pick and the third overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, in the starting lineup. Washington's leading scorer with 11.6 points entering Saturday's matchup, Beal finished with six. ... Shaun Livingston, signed as a free agent by the Wizards on Wednesday, played 16 minutes and scored four points in his first game this season. ... Washington forward Nene (plantar fasciitis) participated in practice on Thursday for the first time this season. ... Utah returns home to face Houston on Monday, the same day Washington hosts Indiana.
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