Despite Strained Thumb, Wizards Forward Antawn Jamison Hopes to Play Tonight

The Wizards' Antawn Jamison, left, tries to get a shot past Detroit's Jason Maxiell on Wednesday. Jamison strained his thumb in the first quarter.
The Wizards' Antawn Jamison, left, tries to get a shot past Detroit's Jason Maxiell on Wednesday. Jamison strained his thumb in the first quarter. (By Allen Einstein -- Nbae Via Getty Images)
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By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 19, 2008

Antawn Jamison had his strained left thumb wrapped in protective tape as he got ready to leave Verizon Center yesterday, and the veteran forward, who did not practice and is listed as a game-time decision for tonight's game against the Philadelphia 76ers, said he is going to do whatever he can to play.

"It's sore and bruised pretty badly, but I've got some medicine on it right now and I'm a pretty fast healer so we'll see how it goes," said Jamison, who has not missed a game this season. "You know me. I'm going to try to be out there."

The good news for Jamison and the struggling Wizards is that an MRI exam taken yesterday revealed no serious damage to the thumb or wrist area. The injury happened with just more than four minutes remaining in the first quarter of Wednesday night's 88-74 loss at Detroit.

Jamison cut to the basket and tried to receive a pass from Caron Butler, but as Jamison reached for the ball, it jammed into his thumb. Jamison immediately recoiled in pain and hunched over while clutching his left hand.

After a team athletic trainer applied a protective wrap, Jamison returned to the game and went on to finish with 14 points and 11 rebounds in just more than 41 minutes.

However, Jamison favored the hand throughout the game and although he still managed to put up a team-high 18 shots with his good hand (he's right-handed), he did say the injury affected him while going for rebounds or when coming into contact while driving to the basket.

"It's one of those things where I like to reach out with my left hand and bring the ball into my right hand, but I really couldn't do that," Jamison said. "It was pretty painful."

If Jamison can't go, interim coach Ed Tapscott could shift starting center Andray Blatche to Jamison's forward spot and replace Blatche with JaVale McGee or Etan Thomas, or he could start Darius Songaila in Jamison's place.

Whether it is serious or not, Jamison's injury illustrates just how thin a margin the 4-19 Wizards are working with. So far, neither Jamison nor Butler has suffered an injury, and other than Antonio Daniels, who missed time with a knee problem before getting traded to New Orleans last week, no other players have been injured since Brendan Haywood hurt his wrist during training camp.

Despite the relatively good run of health, the Wizards have not won consecutive games this season and are in the midst of a four-game skid, with all of the losses coming by 14 or more points.

Like Eddie Jordan before him, Tapscott has tried a little bit of everything to get his team going. Blatche has replaced McGee as a starter for the past two games, and Mike James was inserted into the lineup as a starter at point guard Wednesday night.

McGee, the promising but raw first-round pick out of Nevada, has slowly seen his time dwindle to the point that he played less than three minutes against Detroit. In the past seven games, McGee has played nine minutes or less in five of them as Tapscott has primarily used Blatche and Songaila at center. Tapscott theorized that opponents, after having seen McGee early on, have adjusted to how to handle him.

"You've seen teams take veteran, big-bodied guys and they went right at him," Tapscott said. "Now, he has to make the next adjustment. He got off to a good start, but we've played a bunch of people twice now -- Detroit we've played three times -- and they do their homework so they see what his strengths are and they look to expose some of his weakness. That happens in this league. We have to help JaVale adjust and counter what they are doing to him."

Wizards Notes: Songaila, a proud Wake Forest alum, will handle the coin toss for tomorrow morning's EagleBank Bowl at RFK Stadium.

"It's Wake Forest-Navy, so I guess it was between me and David Robinson," Songaila joked in reference to the former San Antonio Spurs center who starred at the Naval Academy in the 1980s. "I mean who would you pick? Darius Songaila of course!" . . .

The 76ers (11-14) are 2-0 since Maurice Cheeks was fired and replaced by Tony DiLeo last Saturday. The 76ers beat the Wizards, 104-89, in DiLeo's debut on Saturday night in Philadelphia.

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