Wizards' injuries take toll

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010

The Washington Wizards have found little encouraging news through their four-game losing streak, but swingman Josh Howard continues to make progress with his left knee rehabilitation. Howard practiced on Sunday in full for the first time - without exhaustion or the need for substitution - as he nears his season debut later this month.

Howard has moved fluidly on his surgically repaired left knee since being cleared for five-on-five drills last month, but said he needs a few more practices under his belt before declaring himself ready.

"It's getting close," said Howard, 30, the oldest player on the Wizards' roster. "Staying in practice, not taking any subs, fighting through fatigue, that will be the first thing. Because getting used to that new tendon, it's a big thing. If I can fight through that, I know I'm going to be ready."

Howard has been targeting a return against Charlotte on Dec. 20 or Chicago on Dec. 22 - which would be exactly eight months since he tore his anterior cruciate ligament against the Bulls. But he hasn't ruled out coming back sooner.

Howard said he has refrained from rushing back too soon, with a setback of tendinitis two months ago serving as a reminder.

"Just fight that anxious feeling," he said. "After basketball, I have to worry about my family and kids. So, that's first and foremost. Second is my job. This organization is a great organization and I want to return it back to a winning one."

John Wall (sore left foot) and Andray Blatche (left knee swelling) sat out practice to nurse their respective injuries. Blatche said he developed soreness in his knee the day after scoring 16 points in a team-high 40 minutes in the Wizards' 101-95 loss to New York on Friday, in his return after missing two games with a left hip contusion. The condition worsened the next day, Blatche said, and he shut himself down after attempting to run in practice.

Blatche said he doesn't expect the injury to force him to sit out against the Lakers on Tuesday.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company