SCOREBOARD
Tuesday, Feb. 19
Orlando at Detroit (7:30 p.m. EST). The Pistons have won 10 straight.

ON THE MEND
Gilbert Arenas participated in light, non-contact drills at Washington's practice on Monday, a step forward in his return from left knee surgery. The team has not said when he can return to full-contact practice. Another injured Wizards player, center Etan Thomas, was cleared to practice for the first time since he had open-heart surgery in October. No timetable has been set for him to play in a game.

BACK IN THE FOLD
Atlanta signed guard Jeremy Richardson to a 10-day contract Monday, restoring their roster to 13 players after sending four to the Sacramento Kings in a trade for point guard Mike Bibby. Richardson played in five games for the Hawks last year after signing two 10-day contracts.

SPEAKING
``Even the bottom tier teams, if you can call them bottom tier teams, the eighth seed, ninth seed, they're tough.'' - Kobe Bryant, on the Western Conference playoff chase. The top nine teams in the conference are separated by just 4 1/2 games.

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