Wizards forward Michael Ruffin missed his second straight game with knee tendinitis. Ruffin, who also missed the Nov. 11 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics with the flu, is averaging 1 point and 2.9 rebounds in 11.8 minutes, but as has always been the case with the five-year veteran, statistics provide only a small indication of what he contributes. Ruffin's energy off the bench and ability to set solid screens have made a him a valuable part of several Washington wins this season.

According to Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan, Ruffin's knee simply needs a few days of rest, and he'll likely be available for Tuesday's game at MCI Center against the Toronto Raptors.

"Michael Ruffin is a key to us," Jordan said. "He doesn't play a lot of minutes but he plays every game and he makes key plays. He makes steals, he rotates on defense, the other guys trust him and we always say: He doesn't take shots away from other guys."

In Search of a Team Identity

Jordan believes that his team is still in the process of establishing a true identity. Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison are again playing like all stars, but the team is still adjusting to the departure of guard Larry Hughes. Newcomers Caron Butler, Chucky Atkins and Antonio Daniels are carving out roles.

Last night, Jordan went with a starting lineup of Arenas, Jamison, Jarvis Hayes, Jared Jeffries and Brendan Haywood for the sixth consecutive game, and the coach continues to divvy up playing time off the bench based on how players are performing on a given night.