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Short-Handed Wizards Can't Match Bucks

Bucks 99, Wizards 90

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 19, 2005; Page D01

MILWAUKEE, March 18 -- Washington Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan looked a bit flustered before his team faced the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. Already short-handed, Jordan found out earlier in the day that forward Kwame Brown had come down with the flu and that guard Juan Dixon had to sit again because of his sprained right ankle, reducing his roster to just eight players. Jordan tried not to worry about his predicament, saying, "Eight is enough."

And for a little more than 43 minutes, eight looked like it would be enough before the Wizards fell, 99-90, to the Bucks at Bradley Center.

Milwaukee's Mo Williams leans on Gilbert Arenas, who scores 27 points in a losing effort. (Peter Zuzga - AP)

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MILWAUKEE, March 18 -- The Wizards placed all-star forward Antawn Jamison on the injured list with right knee tendinitis Friday. Jamison, the Wizards' third-leading scorer and leading rebounder, will miss at least five games -- meaning the earliest he could return is March 27 in Seattle. "It's the smart thing to do," Jamison said, "to sit out five games, take it from there and be ready for when it's really important -- that's down the stretch and in the playoffs."

Jamison had played in 386 consecutive games before missing the Wizards' loss in New York on March 8. He returned to score 14 points in 36 minutes against Boston and could only last eight minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. He didn't play in the Wizards' 122-93 win in Atlanta on Wednesday, but the team determined that Jamison needed more time to heal. "We want to be very sure about him," Coach Eddie Jordan said. "He'll tell us how he feels after" five games.

"If it was up to me, I'd play tonight," Jamison said Friday before the Wizards played the Milwaukee Bucks. "I'm hard-headed. I'll be the first one to say, I'll try to go out there when I'm not ready. I think I did that the first time. . . . Coach really had to put the clamps down."

With Jamison, Jarvis Hayes (fractured patella) and guard Anthony Peeler (sore knee) out, the Wizards will look to find a perimeter shooter to fill their vacant roster spot. The Wizards could sign another player in the next few days, possibly Saturday.

The Wizards also waived Samaki Walker. Walker never found his way into Jordan's rotation, averaging a career-low 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in just 14 games, and the Wizards had sufficient depth in the front court. The team placed Walker on the injured list with a lower back strain on Feb. 14 and he stopped traveling with the team after he sprained his left ankle in Chicago almost three weeks ago. Walker averaged 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in nine seasons with Dallas, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington. "He was professional with us. We had no problems with him," Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld said of Walker.

Jamison said he will continue to travel with the team on its five-game West Coast trip, which begins Tuesday in Denver.

-- Michael Lee

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Washington came back from a 16-point second-half deficit to tie the game when Gilbert Arenas hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 4 minutes 41 seconds left. Then, the Wizards went without a field goal for rest of the game.

"I guess we shouldn't have even been in that predicament," Arenas said after scoring a game-high 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. "I guess I wasn't playing hard in the first half. So, I take all the blame for that loss. It shouldn't have happened. I'm one of the leaders, if I don't have any energy, the other four won't have any energy."

Arenas took a career-high 35 shots, connecting on just 12. His back-court mate, Larry Hughes, had 24 points and eight rebounds for the Wizards (35-28), who have lost nine of their last 11 road games. They will host the Utah Jazz tonight at MCI Center before embarking on a five-game West Coast trip, beginning on Tuesday in Denver.

Arenas and Hughes combined to make 12 of the Wizards' 16 assists, but they also combined to take 53 of the Wizards' 86 shots.

"We talked [about] a little bit more passing, not making it a stressful game and not going one-on-three," Jordan said. "I thought there were times we could've made the extra pass, but that's the way we've been playing."

"It's not a matter of who's taking shots," said reserve forward Etan Thomas, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds. "We built a hole for ourselves. It was one of those games where you're playing catchup and that's hard."

Arenas shouldered the blame. He shot 3 of 14 in the first half and scored just six points as the Wizards trailed 56-43 at the break.

"We wouldn't have been down 13 if I had played hard from the beginning," Arenas said.

Bucks guard Michael Redd scored 16 of his team-high 26 points in the third quarter, giving Milwaukee a 63-47 lead before the Wizards rallied.

Washington trailed by 12 points with 11:19 remaining before going on a 16-6 run over the next seven minutes. Arenas had nine points during the run. He shot just 3 of 12 from beyond the three-point line, but had no luck when he tried to go inside.

Arenas had as many free throw attempts as his jersey number -- zero -- for the first time this season.

"I've watched Gilbert Arenas for two seasons and I've never watched a game where he doesn't get to the free throw line," center Brendan Haywood said as he stared at the stat sheet after the game.

Arenas said it wasn't for lack of trying.

"I got the wounds to show I was out there fighting, it just didn't go my way," said Arenas, who entered the game averaging 8.2 free throw attempts.

The Wizards placed Antawn Jamison, their third-leading scorer and leading rebounder, on the injured list before the game and he watched from the bench. Dixon was dressed in case of emergency but he didn't play. Brown stayed in his hotel room.

Forward Laron Profit got his second start of the season -- and his first since the season opener in Memphis.

"We had enough," Jordan said. "There is no excuse for us. It wasn't about being undermanned. We didn't come out with the positive emotion and the positive energy needed. Eventually we got it, but it was a little too late. We just didn't play with the discipline, composure and intelligence needed to win the game."

Bucks forward Joe Smith had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Desmond Mason added 17 for the Bucks (27-37).

"You can't blame things on two or three missed plays or two or three missed free throws when you don't take care of business for 48 minutes," said Hughes, who missed three free throws in the fourth quarter. "With the people we have out, we have no leeway, we have to come out from jump ball."

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