All Business in Florida
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan has never believed in curfews, but last night his players were expected to be safely tucked in at their Orlando hotel at a reasonable hour in anticipation of tonight's game against the Southeast Division-leading Magic.
The Wizards (33-33) had a three-game winning streak snapped with a home loss to Atlanta on Monday night and face a stretch that includes playing just one home game the rest of the month.
The team has no idea when three-time all-star guard Gilbert Arenas will return from a left knee injury, starters Caron Butler and Antonio Daniels are playing with painful left wrist injuries, and the last time the Wizards played the Magic, they suffered a 122-92 beating, so Jordan is doing everything he can think of to help his team's chances.
"It could be a shot in the dark," he said. "I could be totally wrong and we go and get blown out by 30 but I think, just so that they know that [the coaches] mean business, they should mean business. We have an opportunity to get a great win at Orlando and finish the trip in Miami. We've all been around the league long enough to know what kind of a trap a trip like this could be."
The curfew will continue as the team moves on to Miami -- and all of its temptations -- for Friday night's game against the struggling Heat.
The Wizards certainly can't afford another letdown like the one they experienced Monday night, when sloppy defense and an overall lack of energy contributed to a 105-96 loss to the eighth-place Hawks.
The Wizards remain in sixth place, but lead Philadelphia by a half-game. Entering last night's action, only five games separate the Wizards and ninth-place New Jersey.
Jordan's curfew idea didn't seem to bother his players, who were informed of it by reporters following Saturday's loss. Center Brendan Haywood, who has never been one to spare words, smiled when told about Jordan's idea.
"Eddie Jordan is the coach, and if he thinks we need a curfew, then we need a curfew," Haywood said before pausing. "What? Did you expect me to say something else?"
Arenas, who has not played since Nov. 16 and underwent a second surgery on his left knee a few days later, made the trip and said he plans on "cranking up" the intensity of his workouts.
Over the weekend, Arenas said that playing tonight was a possibility but he backed off of that idea after getting the results of an MRI exam Monday morning. He said team doctors advised him to test himself further in practice before trying to play in a game.
"Every game is 50-50 to be honest, depending on how I feel that night," Arenas said. "The doctors said: 'ramp it up' and I asked them, 'Well, can I ramp it up in a game?' And they were like, 'Well, let's work it out in practice first before you play in a game.' "