Washington Wizards center Ike Austin, suffering from strep throat, did not play in last night's game against the Chicago Bulls at MCI Center and might not make the trip to Milwaukee for tonight's game against the Bucks.

Austin was sent home from the morning shoot-around and was told not to return after tests confirmed the discomforting and highly contagious ailment.

Austin told team officials he did not feel well before Wednesday's loss to Chicago, in which he played just six minutes. He did not practice Thursday. Gerard King took Austin's place as Jahidi White's backup. King had six points in 16 minutes last night.

"The whole thing is to be patient and keep working," King said about his opportunity to see some significant playing time. "Sometimes minutes aren't going to be there. You've got to keep on pushing because you never know."

King, who was an early-season standout but has been reduced to playing spot minutes, said getting limited playing time does not bother him. . . .

Backup small forward Tracy Murray had been the hottest player for Washington over the previous four games.

He averaged 14.5 points in 18.5 minutes per game and has made 14 of 21 three-point attempts (66 percent) in that span. He scored a team-high 18 points in Wednesday's loss.

Last night, however, he finished with only eight points and fouled out in 18 minutes.

Bulls Sign Maloney

The Bulls signed guard Matt Maloney, who was cut by Houston after it acquired former Maryland standout Steve Francis in a preseason trade.