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Saturday, March 26, 2005; Page D03


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LOS ANGELES, March 25 -- Since all-star forward Antawn Jamison went down with right knee tendinitis, back-court mates Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes have provided the bulk of the Wizards' offense. Entering the Wizards' game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, Arenas and Hughes combined to take 48.7 percent of the team's shots (184 for 398) and scored 48.2 percent of the points (237 of 491) in the past five games. After the Wizards' 85-84 win over the Utah Jazz on Thursday -- when Arenas and Hughes combined to score 54 points and took 44 of the team's 66 shots -- Arenas said his teammates have no problem with them carrying the offensive load.

"The team has confidence in us," Arenas said. "They know what we can do so they just stay out of our way. If they get the ball, they get the ball. If they don't, they fight for it. They're going to rebound, back-cut. We're going to give them a bone here and there, but we're going to do most of the scoring."

Meantime, Arenas said Jamison shouldn't rush to get back before he is ready. "If you come back too early and [get hurt again], now we have to wait a little bit longer," he said. . . .

Friday night, the Wizards were introduced to Clippers 6-foot-7 rookie point guard Shaun Livingston, who has drawn comparisons to Jason Kidd and Magic Johnson for his court vision and playmaking ability. Livingston, the fourth pick in last summer's draft out of Peoria (Ill.) High, has missed 52 games this season because of a dislocated right patella and torn cartilage in his right shoulder, but handed out a career-high 11 assists in his first career start in the Clippers' win against Milwaukee on Wednesday.

"Everyone recognizes that he has the potential to be a great player. He's definitely what we need," Clippers forward Corey Maggette said.

Livingston originally committed to play at Duke, but he has no regrets -- especially after his injury-plagued rookie season. "I probably could've missed all of my freshman year instead of missing a couple of games," said Livingston, who is averaging 5.4 and 3.8 assists. "Bottom line, the money is a factor that plays into [the decision to go pro], but I want to play. I want to be on the court, whether it was in college or the NBA, and that was the biggest thing I was missing, rather than the money."

-- Michael Lee

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