Trevor Ariza left the locker room on Wednesday wearing a walking boot on his left leg and lumbered down the hallway as if some heavy luggage had been attached instead. Ariza was a significant casualty from the Wizards’ biggest win of the season, as the veteran swingman suffered a left calf strain that will likely keep him out for considerable time.
With 8 minutes, 29 seconds left in the third quarter of the 105-101 upset of the Miami Heat, Ariza stole the ball from Rashard Lewis, took a dribble, called timeout and quickly collapsed to the ground. Ariza said he felt a pop in his leg but he also alertly decided to make sure his team maintained possession.
“I just felt something that was uncomfortable, something I never felt before. I had to stop,” Ariza said. “I didn’t want to turn the ball over. We were in the middle of a run, so I had to stop play.”
Ariza tried to walk off the court, but had to sit down to grab his leg and grimace after a few steps. He then hobbled to the locker room and didn’t return.
The Wizards held on to win in the absence of their best perimeter defender and they are awaiting results from the MRI to determine how long he will be gone. Forward Kevin Seraphin missed nearly three weeks when he had a similar injury during the preseason.
Coach Randy Wittman didn’t want to offer an estimate, but said he is prepared for Ariza to “miss some time.” Wittman didn’t mention who would start in Ariza’s stead, though Martell Webster finished the game and scored 13 points. But Webster, Chris Singleton and Shaun Livingston could all get time at the slot, Wittman said, with the team potentially going small with Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal. Cartier Martin will also return to the rotation.
”Hey, it’s another opportunity,” Wittman said. “I think we’re dealing with a little bit of what we had with Kevin and what did he miss? Three-and-half weeks? I’m not sitting here saying it’s going to be 3 ½ weeks, but we’re looking at some time.”
Ariza has consistently been one of the Wizards’ best defenders, deflecting passes and leading the team with 1.9 steals per game. He had helped limit LeBron James to eight points before leaving the game.
“It’s very frustrating but it is a part of the game,” Ariza said. “That’s why we have 15 players, so other players can come along and pick up other players when they’re down. It was big for us. We needed that. Hopefully that will carry over to the next game.”
The Wizards will have a set of back-to-back games against Atlanta and Golden State, but Ariza will also miss out on his return to New Orleans next Tuesday. Ariza spent the past two seasons with the Hornets before getting traded to Washington last June, but he played down going up against his former team.
“To be honest with you, I have plenty of former teams,” said Ariza, who is actually going to miss out on facing three of them next week, including Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers. “I look at every game as just another opponent.”
When asked out long he will be out, Ariza said, “I have no idea. I don’t know anything. I’m just hoping it will hurry up so I can get back out there.”