Jarvis Hayes mumbled and took bites from orange slices because he didn't want to talk. He was still dressed in full uniform yesterday, but he had no chance of playing against the Golden State Warriors. Just as the Wizards welcome back Larry Hughes, the player who filled in for him at shooting guard has been put on the shelf.
Hayes, the Wizards' fourth-leading scorer this season, will miss four to six weeks with a fractured right patella. The second-year swingman suffered the injury following a dunk in the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings last Sunday. Hayes's injury was originally listed as right knee tendinitis, but he knew it was more serious. "I felt a pop," Hayes said, but he didn't receive the official word until an X-ray revealed a crack on Thursday. "I was speechless, upset," he said, wondering what he could do to come back. "I feared the worst. [Stuff] like that happens. Excuse my language."
Hayes was averaging 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 54 games this season. He made 22 starts -- including the last 18 in place of Hughes, who missed 20 games with a broken right thumb before returning Wednesday to score 31 against Houston. Coach Eddie Jordan said he felt that losing Hayes was almost as important as losing Hughes, Gilbert Arenas or Antawn Jamison. "He's a true small forward and we don't have that," Jordan said. "Antawn is a ' 'tweener' in my sense. He's a small forward and somewhere in between a big forward. We miss those skills that form that position. [Hayes is] out. We got to deal with it. That's all."
The Wizards likely will place Hayes on the injured list and activate guard Juan Dixon (sprained right ankle) today, but neither Dixon nor Jared Jeffries (bruised right knee) is expected to play against Charlotte tonight. "You always have adversity, but I think that makes us better," Jeffries said. "We've learned from Kwame [ Brown] being out. We've learned from Larry being out. We've learned from Etan [ Thomas] being out. We'll learn from this."
Hayes had battled a sprained right thumb most of the season and recently dealt with tendinitis in both knees, but after missing 11 games because of a strained left hamstring as a rookie, his goal entering the season was to play 82 games. When he was forced to miss a game against Milwaukee because of a concussion, Hayes reduced that number to 81. "I can't now. I can't play 81, 79, 76. Nothing," a noticeably choked up Hayes said. "Just rest and rehab. It'll heal. I hope to back" for the playoffs. . . .
At halftime, the Wizards honored Bullets legend Bob Dandridge, who averaged 18.3 points and 5.5 rebounds from 1977 to '81. He also helped the team win an NBA championship in 1978.
-- Michael Lee