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Utah Jazz back at home amid long road ride

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 5 2015 12:35 a.m. MDT

Tonight offers a mid-March respite, a rare home game amid what the Jazz can only hope is not their road to ruin.

It comes against the Washington Wizards, a 16-win NBA Eastern Conference club that when compared to their recent menu of port stops ought to be chicken soup for some travel-weary souls.

And while they would in no form or fashion ever admit to overlooking this evening's helping of homestyle cooking, it's clear that the Jazz remain consumed by both what just was, and what's about to be, on the road.

"That is frustrating," power forward Carlos Boozer said of opening a just-concluded five-game trip 2-0 and riding a 12-game overall winning streak, only to return home with a losing 2-3 record on the Eastern swing and a three-game losing steak.

"You know, we came on this trip trying to win every game," he added. "The Atlanta game we fought back and were right there. (Saturday in Miami) was anybody's game once it got to overtime. And (Sunday at Orlando) we didn't have it."

The Jazz did rally from 16 points down in the first half Wednesday at Atlanta, but they also later allowed the Hawks to come back from five down themselves.

In Miami, they blew a seven-point lead in the last 56 seconds of regulation and an eight-point advantage in overtime No. 1 — only to eventually fall after getting outscored 15-4 in the last of three OTs.

And they never stood a chance against Southeast Division-leading Orlando, trailing by double digits throughout the second half of a 105-87 loss that left them 41-26 overall.

"It was very tough, especially after having the 12-game win streak, to come back and lose three," point guard Deron Williams said. "It went from a good trip to a bad one.

"The first two games (victories at Toronto and Indiana) were good for us, then we kind of blew it against Atlanta, then we really blew it against Miami, and (Sunday) we come out and we don't really even show up," he added. "So, we're glad to be getting home for one — and hopefully we can get back on the winning track."

The losses to the Hawks and Heat really may stick with the Jazz for longer than they should.

"I thought we played good against Atlanta, except for the last couple minutes," Williams said. "We played really good against Miami except for a minute, and then the last overtime.

"Those are two games we should've had, we just let slip away," the Jazz point added. "It's kind of tough to swallow. We've just got to get back on the winning track."

Tonight's visit from the Eastern Conference cellar-dwelling Wizards should aid that cause.

"Hopefully we're back home — that will be enough," Williams said when asked how, after playing 111 minutes in two weekend losses, the energy-sapped Jazz can summon what it takes to rebound tonight.

This game is the only one at home amid 6-of-7 on the road, and after it Utah visits an Oklahoma City team that like Washington will also be watching the playoffs.

Seven of the Jazz's last 13 games after that come away from home, where Utah — 13-20 on the road — is 28-6 this season.

"We've got a lot of road games," Williams said, "so there's always time to turn around."

A return to the winning ways the Jazz enjoyed not long ago, however, is no easy task.

Each of those final seven on the road comes against Western Conference clubs with winning records — Phoenix, Portland, Denver, New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers.

And the Jazz have only two road wins this season over teams that currently have winning records, Detroit and Philadelphia, both from the East.

But never mind all that, Boozer suggested after the loss in Orlando. Breakdown of the schedule notwithstanding, only one thing really matters to him.

"We've got to find a way to win," he said.

"Got to get ugly, got to get scrappy, got to do whatever it takes for us to win," Boozer added, "because in the playoffs there are going to games just like (Sunday's) — physical."

E-MAIL: tbuckley@desnews.com

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