Washington Wizards getting healthier by the day

January 10, 2013
Jordan Crawford. (Associated Press)
Jordan Crawford may also return to the lineup on Saturday. (Associated Press)

The Washington Wizards completed another spirited practice on Thursday afternoon, with point guard John Wall dribbling, cutting and driving as if he’s on track to play for the first time this season on Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks at Verizon Center.

The anticipation of Wall’s comeback from a stress injury to his left patella is all the more elevated given Coach Randy Wittman also is keeping open the possibility of having guard Jordan Crawford and center Nene back in the lineup, meaning the Wizards may be able to field their most complete lineup to date.

Crawford and Nene missed Monday’s 101-99 victory over the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, and both are listed as day-to-day. Crawford, who played point guard in spots during Wall’s absence, has a sore left ankle, and Nene is dealing with right knee tendinitis.

“Again, we’ll see,” Wittman said. “We’ll see what either of them do tomorrow and go from there. I don’t want to rule one way or the other anything yet with another full day of practice ahead.”

During Thursday’s practice on the auxiliary court at Verizon Center, Crawford was pedaling on a stationary bicycle while teammates participated in a full-court scrimmage. The Wizards’ leading scorer (15.6 points per game) then joined in a light shootaround after practice, working on jump shots for approximately 15 minutes before heading into the locker room.

Crawford has missed the last two games because of the sore ankle but played admirably while filling in at point guard not only for Wall, but also when backup point guard A.J. Price was out with a broken right hand.

Nene, meantime, shot free throws after watching the scrimmage while sitting on a folding chair off to the side of the practice court. The Brazilian big man, who’s third on the Wizards in scoring (12.9) and second in rebounding (6.3), has played in 20 of 33 games while nursing several ailments.

“It came at a good time for both those guys,” Wittman said, referring to the Wizards having four days without a game to help facilitate the healing process.

A third injured teammate, guard Cartier Martin, did some light shooting with a brace on his left leg on Thursday. Washington’s second-leading three-point shooter hyperextended his knee in Sunday’s loss to the Miami Heat.

Even without Martin, the Wizards are closing in on having a roster they envisioned at the start of the season before they revealed Wall was to miss extended time while rehabilitating his knee. Price and forward Trevor Ariza both came back for Monday night’s stunning upset of the Thunder, in which rookie guard Bradley Beal made a shot with three-tenths of a second to play for the winning points.

Ariza had missed the previous 17 games with a left calf strain, and Price had been out for 15 games while recovering from a broken fourth metatarsal in his shooting hand during Dec. 8’s 101-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Verizon Center.

There’s also a chance forward Trevor Booker makes it back for Saturday night’s game. Booker sprained his right knee during the preseason and has not played since aggregating the injury in a loss to the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 19.

The 23rd overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft took part in practice on Thursday and appeared a full-go during the portion of the scrimmage media were invited to watch. Booker’s road to recovery has included a trip to New York to receive platelet-rich plasma treatment to expedite healing.

Booker also underwent the procedure twice to help him recover from plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

“We have people injured, big pieces,” Booker said. “We’ll see now what we’re made of. I’m ready, back to my usual self. Sometimes you’ve got to be more patient. You could injure yourself even more, but I think I’m ready now. I’m ready to go.”

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He also covers Fantasy Football.
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