Arenas Set to Return For West Coast Swing

By Ivan Carter
Washington Staff Writer
Thursday, December 15, 2005

Gilbert Arenas didn't work out yesterday but plans to be in the lineup tomorrow night when the Washington Wizards kick off a five-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Arenas, a Los Angeles native who always seems to play with a little extra fire when he faces the Lakers, missed Tuesday's 94-74 home victory over the New Jersey Nets with back soreness. The back has bothered him since early last week, and that was before he took a hard fall Friday night against the Chicago Bulls.

Arenas said he considered sitting out Sunday's game at Miami but felt the game was too important to miss. Arenas played 47 minutes in the overtime loss to the Heat and decided during the shoot-around Tuesday morning that he needed some rest.

"I think some of it is from overuse," said Arenas, who ranked fourth in the league in minutes played per game (41.4) heading into last night's games. "I don't take a break during the season. I'm still working out twice a day so [the back] doesn't get a lot of time to rest. I didn't want to take this injury into the whole West Coast trip, so I thought it would be good to take a few days to get my strength back."

Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan plans on taking a cautious approach with his star guard heading into a crucial trip that includes games at Portland, Seattle, Denver and Phoenix. The Wizards won't return home until Dec. 26 when they will host the Lakers.

"We have to make sure that the treatment goes well," Jordan said. "If he goes out there in the layup line and that thing tweaks up, you have to remember that we'll still have four more games to play" on the trip.

Jordan added: "I trust our trainers. They know what they are doing. The most important thing is rest. He'll have five days of rest and we'll see how he feels."

Blatche Sent to Dazzle

Rookie forward Andray Blatche, who has appeared in four games for a total of 21 minutes this season, was assigned yesterday to the Wizards' National Development League affiliate in Roanoke. Blatche is expected to play tomorrow night when the Dazzle faces Arkansas.

The Wizards have put together a flexible plan for rotating Blatche, rookie guard Donell Taylor and second-year center Peter John Ramos through Roanoke, which is also affiliated with the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

Ramos has been in Roanoke all season but will likely be brought back at some point to practice with the Wizards; Taylor, who has appeared in two games with the Wizards, will likely be assigned sometime soon.

Development league rules allow teams to assign up to two players at a time with no limit on how long they can remain with an affiliate. Players must be in their first or second NBA season and can be assigned up to three times per season. Roanoke has 40 games remaining in a regular season that runs through April 7.

"We have a plan but that plan can be altered if we think that there are injuries and we need their bodies and what they can do for us," Jordan said. "In that case, they won't go. If we feel they are not making progress here and we see that they are getting frustrated with not getting enough playing time or enough reps in practice, then we'll send them down. Or, if we see them make considerable or huge growth and we see them capable of giving us some spot duty, then they'll stay. Right now, we think they need some experience."

Blatche, who was drafted in the second round in June, missed training camp and the entire preseason while recovering from wounds he suffered in a Sept. 25 shooting.

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