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Sunday, November 21, 2004; Page E04


vs. Toronto

Tuesday, 7

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Nov. 20 -- Washington Wizards reserve point guard Steve Blake blew his nose, then he tossed aside a box of tissue and began shooting jumpers at Continental Airlines Arena. "I still have a little bit of a cold," he said, "but that's not going to stop me now."

Blake has been waiting too long for this day. After missing all of training camp and the first eight games of the regular season because of surgery in September to remove a chipped bone from his right ankle, Blake was activated from the injured list Saturday.

"It's nice to be ready to go, to finally get the season started for myself," said Blake, coming off a rookie campaign in which he averaged 5.9 points and 2.8 assists per game. "I'm psyched about it."

To make room for Blake, the Wizards placed guard Laron Profit on the injured list with left knee tendinitis.

Coach Eddie Jordan said he will bring Blake along slowly, and the play of Juan Dixon -- who is averaging 10.3 points and 2.4 assists -- has made that decision easier. "Juan is in a groove and Juan has played well," Jordan said. "We'll go with Juan first off the bench and we'll see where Steve will fit in." . . .

After the Nets, the Wizards will continue playing the weakest portion of their schedule. They will not face a team with a winning record until Dec. 13 in Miami -- a span of nine games against Toronto, Philadelphia, Toronto, New Jersey, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, New York and New Orleans.

"It's going to always be important that it's not predicated on what other teams are doing," Jordan said of the stretch. "It's how we are improving. How we are doing as far as our growth. Our state of mind. Am I doing a good job coaching the team? That's always how we measure ourselves. We don't look at our ability to make headway through the conference by looking at other people. We look at ourselves and our ability to play better." . . .

Forward Samaki Walker missed the game because of a strained back.

-- Michael Lee

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