7:00 PM ET, March 5, 2014
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
WASHINGTON -- Drew Gooden scored his first points of the season and had his first double-digit game since April 2012. Andre Miller tallied his most assists since December. Al Harrington played his most minutes since November.
The Washington Wizards turned to the thirty-something brigade Wednesday night in their 104-91 win over the Utah Jazz. Thirty-two-year-old Gooden, 37-year-old Miller and 34-year-old Harrington -- who've all been away from the game for long stretches until recently -- were a strong supporting cast that padded a lead in the second quarter and helped hold onto it in the fourth.
"We had the AARP group in there," Washington coach Randy Wittman said. "That was doing pretty good."
But look further down the box score. Gooden was 6 for 7 from the field and finished with 12 points. Not bad for a player who had been idle since being amnestied last summer and is playing on a 10-day contract.
"Taking that much time off really tests your professionalism," Gooden said. "Staying in shape, waking up every day on your own schedule."
Now he's getting his legs under him -- and just in time. His 10-day deal expires Friday, but the fact that the Wizards finally put his name above his locker on Tuesday gives him hope that they'll ask him to stick around.
"I've got a nameplate," he said, "so that gave me a little incentive that I might be here."
When Gooden scored four quick baskets in the second quarter, three of the assists came from Miller. Miller was acquired in a trade deadline deal two weeks ago from the Denver Nuggets, who had benched him since New Year's Day for getting into an argument with the coach.
Then there's Harrington, who recently returned from a three-month layoff following surgery on his right knee. His driving dunk restored a double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter.
"They outsmart people," the 28-year-old Ariza said. "They know they're a little bit older, so they use their wisdom a little better than a lot of us do. I said `us' because I'm still young compared to them."
Alec Burks scored 19 points, and Trey Burke added 14 to lead the Jazz, who have dropped the first four games of their six-game road trip. Their 7-24 road record is the worst in the Western Conference.
"We can't afford to think these last 21 games that we are going to just show up and make it happen, we've got to play to get better," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We've got to come with focus and energy every night. Tonight wasn't our best focus game, but we still had opportunities."
The Wizards led by as many as 15, but they never could put the Jazz away. Diante Garrett's 3-pointer cut the deficit to five early in the fourth, and it wasn't until Ariza made it 96-85 with a 3-pointer with 4:11 to play that the Wizards could start to feel somewhat comfortable.
The Wizards improved to 4-1 since Nene was sidelined with a knee injury. At 31 years old, the Brazilian would have fit right in Wednesday night.
"I joked with Al and Nene," Gooden said. "I said if all three of us are on the same team right now, we must be getting old. Five years ago, if we were on a team, you'd say we're loading the team up."
Wizards F Kevin Seraphin missed his fifth consecutive game with a sore right knee, while F Martell Webster sat out his second straight with a sore back. ... Gortat grabbed his 3,000th career rebound. ... Ariza was 4 for 6 from 3-point range and is 26 for 40 over his past six games.
Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 5: Trey Burke #3 of the Washington Wizards shoots against John Wall #2 of the Utah Jazz...(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: Trevor Ariza, who attempted just 43 3-pointers in his first four seasons, is among the NBA's top 10 in shots made beyond the arc during the 2013-2014 campaign. He has now hit 31 out of his past 48 3-point attempts, and happened, in his nonchalant and almost incognizant way, to lead all scorers in this game with 26 points.
X factor: Washington is no longer in the business of serving youth. Drew Gooden and Al Harrington combined to score 20 points. Let that sink in. Five members of Washington's bench who were not on the court for the Wizards in early February played more than 10 minutes against the Jazz.
LVP: Utah's rookie point guard Trey Burke took 14 shots to reach 14 points and had as many turnovers (three) as assists. But chin up, Trey. The glowering, critical eye of the nation can don mascara and bat its eyes at you pretty fast. Just ask John Wall.
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