Saturday night's gut-wrenching 118-111 home loss to the Chicago Bulls overshadowed the impressive return of Washington Wizards veteran forward Michael Ruffin, who missed the previous four games with tendinitis in his right knee. When Ruffin tore off his warmups and entered the game for the first time with 4 minutes 7 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the Wizards trailed 76-70. When he left the game at the 4:56 mark of the fourth, the Wizards led 107-96.
Ruffin's final line of zero points, three rebounds and three fouls in 11 minutes was hardly eye-popping. But his willingness to throw his body around on defense and set screens on offense added much-needed energy and helped push the Wizards on a run that should have led to a victory. The Wizards obviously missed Ruffin's penchant for doing the little things during his time out of the lineup.
"Ruff gives us that energy, that hustle that we need sometimes," guard Gilbert Arenas said. "You can't always tell what he does by looking at the box score but we know what he can do. It was good having him back in there."
Ruffin said he was a little winded but otherwise felt fine after seeing his first game action since he played 12 minutes against Charlotte on Nov. 26.
"I just wish we could have gotten the win," Ruffin said. "Every loss hurts but this loss really hurts."
For the second consecutive night, the Wizards wore uniforms styled after those worn by the 1972-73 Baltimore Bullets.
The Heat wore uniforms styled after the ABA's 1971 Miami Floridians. American Airlines Arena's P.A. announcer went the extra mile by referring to the teams as the "Bullets" and "Floridians" throughout the game.