Trevor Ariza expected to start practicing this week

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, A.J. Price and John Wall all made the short trip to Chicago, where the Wizards lost, 87-77, to the Bulls at United Center.

And, while all four are making progress with their respective injuries, Coach Randy Wittman said Ariza is probably closest to returning to full-contact practice, possibly by Monday.

“He’s coming along good,” Wittman said of Ariza, who strained his left calf in the third quarter of the Wizards’ stunning 105-101 victory over the Miami Heat on Dec. 4. “We’ll see how the next couple of days, go. He’s still got a little tightness in there.” 

One of the better individual defenders on team, Ariza still leads the Wizards in total steals (28) despite missing the past 13 games. He is averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds this season.

The Wizards (4-24) never released a timetable for his return, with Wittman only suggesting that he would miss at least three weeks with the injury. Ariza had little swelling in his leg immediately afterward and will reach the four-week mark on Jan. 1.

Martell Webster has started in Ariza’s absence and is scoring points at an almost identical clip as he did while coming off the bench (9.2-8.9).

The second unit production overall has taken a hit, especially with Price going down with a broken right hand on Dec. 8, pushing Jordan Crawford into the starting lineup for eight games. The Wizards now rank second to the Los Angeles Clippers in bench scoring.

Price had the hard cast removed from his hand last week and will have to wear a soft cast for a few more days. Before the Bulls game, Price was receiving stimulation treatment on his hand and filling out envelopes for tickets.

“My handwriting wasn’t that good, anyway,” Price joked.

Price said he would probably need at least another week with the soft cast before attempting to do more basketball-related activities. He explained that he broke the fourth metatarsal in his shooting hand while swinging up to knock the ball away from Golden State forward Harrison Barnes.

Wittman said Booker remains limited since having the platelet-rich plasma treatment on his sprained right knee two weeks ago. Booker and Wall remain out indefinitely, though Wall has targeted a return “some time in January.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.

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Michael Lee · December 29, 2012

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