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Hayes Is Pain-Free In the Early Going

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 13, 2006

Washington Wizards guard Jarvis Hayes appeared to take another step forward during Wednesday's preseason loss at Chicago in his bid to bounce back from a serious right knee injury. Hayes started at small forward in place of Caron Butler, who was given a night off, and made 4 of 7 shots en route to finishing with 11 points in 18 minutes.

The performance came just two nights after Hayes scored 14 points in the preseason opener against Toronto and was noteworthy because Hayes says he has yet to feel any pain or discomfort in his surgically repaired right knee.

Following a strong preseason performance against the San Antonio Spurs last fall, Hayes awoke the next morning with a swollen knee and was unable to play in the team's next game. Not so this time.

"Everything's great, I feel good," Hayes said. "I feel like I am in my last year at Georgia again. The strength in my legs and in my knee is so much better than it's been the last couple years. I'm finally playing like I know I can play."

A healthy Hayes would give the Wizards a different look at both ends of the court. Hayes's ability to defend either shooting guards or small forwards and his outside shooting touch set him apart from former Wizard Jared Jeffries, who started 77 games last season.

Though a versatile defender, Jeffries was a poor outside shooter (career 29.2 percent shooter from three-point range) and opponents often sagged off him in order to help on other Wizards.

"It should spread the floor more because you won't see teams cheating off of me on the backside like they did with Jared," said Hayes, who has made 10 of 18 shots -- most of them jumpers -- in two games. "I'm shooting with so much confidence right now, I feel like I'm going to make every shot if I'm open. Teams are going to have to respect that."

Stocking Stuffers

Both Hayes and guard DeShawn Stevenson are wearing long black leg sleeves to cover their legs and knees. The sleeves, which are worn on one leg, resemble long socks and are designed to provide warmth and support. The NBA banned players from wearing long, form-fitting leggings last season unless the player had a medical reason for doing so.

Wizards guard Antonio Daniels, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade were among the players who wore the leggings.

"It's not a fashion thing, it's a comfort thing," Stevenson said when asked about the leg sleeve during training camp. "It helps keep the leg warm and I like having that tight feeling around the knee. When you come out of the game, it doesn't take as long to warm back up."

Stevenson, who came to the Wizards this summer after three seasons with the Orlando Magic, was one of only 12 NBA players to start all 82 games last season despite playing on a sore left knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in May and said he has experienced minimal discomfort since camp opened.

No Work for Ramos

Center Peter John Ramos is the lone Wizard who has not played in the first two games. Ramos, a second-round pick in 2004, appeared in six regular season games as a rookie but has been all but invisible since.

Ramos spent most of last season in the NBA Development League and appears to be behind Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas and Calvin Booth on the depth chart.

Ramos, who has a non-guaranteed contract, will not be eligible to play in the D-League this season. In Wednesday's game, Coach Eddie Jordan played James Lang for 14 minutes at center. Lang, who was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets directly out of high school in 2003 and has had previous stints with Toronto and Atlanta, finished with six points, five rebounds and two steals. . . .

Daniels sprained his left ankle during practice yesterday and is listed as day-to-day. Daniels sprained the same ankle while practicing during the preseason last fall and missed one game, and also injured it during an early-season win over the Magic.

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