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Friday, January 14, 2005; Page D08


at Milwaukee

Tonight, 8:30

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The Wizards (20-13) are off to their best start in 26 years. The 1978-79 Washington Bullets started the season 23-10 -- and President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld said the current team has to be "pleased" with its record. "But I don't think we can be satisfied," he said. "We have a lot of games ahead of us. We still have a long way to go."

Grunfeld said that he hasn't thought about tinkering with the team with regard to possible trades. "If there is something out there, I think we'll look at it but we're pleased with this current group and the effort they give on a nightly basis," Grunfeld said. "I think we like this group. We like what they're doing and we like the chemistry at this time, so we'll see where this takes us."

The trade deadline is Feb. 24, but Grunfeld said the Wizards have had too many players miss significant time to really know what they are missing. Forward-center Kwame Brown was added to the injured list for the second time this season and has played just 14 games because of problems with his right foot and ankle. Point guard Steve Blake has played just eight games because of problems with his left ankle. Forward-center Etan Thomas will play his second game of the season tonight in Milwaukee after missing the first 32 with an abdominal strain.

"I think we can build internally," Grunfeld said. "There are three players who haven't played many minutes for us, that we think can be part of our rotation. We're going to have to get them back in the fold. They're going to have to understand what we're doing and get their timing and get their confidence." . . .

Coach Eddie Jordan said the buzz surrounding the Wizards is long overdue. "We've always said this city is a basketball city, as much as New York, Philadelphia and Chicago," said Jordan, a native of Washington. "Not only do they deserve a good basketball team, they deserve a team that plays the way we are playing basketball. We're young, so we have a core group that's going to be here for a while." . . .

Grunfeld spent four seasons as general manager of the Bucks but he didn't join the Wizards in Milwaukee yesterday so that he could celebrate the birthday of his daughter Rebecca, who is a student at Georgetown Law School.

-- Michael Lee

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