Minus Arenas, Butler, Wizards try to regroup before playoffs Print
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Monday, 16 April 2007 11:30
NBA Headline News

 WASHINGTON (AP) -The Washington Wizards' Big Three has been reduced to one, and the team's seventh loss in eight games came by 33 points to possible first-round playoff foe Chicago.
Now the Wizards have two more regular-season games to determine where they'll be seeded in the Eastern Conference playoffs - and to figure out a way to be competitive when they get there.
``The playoffs are different. We have veterans, and I'm sure everybody's intensity is going to go up. And we'll see if we have enough talent. That's what it boils down to: You have to have talent on the floor,'' coach Eddie Jordan said after practice Monday. ``You have to make plays. Sometimes hard, guts-out work will overcome that lack of talent.''
Washington (40-40) hosts the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and closes the regular season at the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
Currently No. 6 in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards could wind up No. 8.
``We've still got two big games left that can decide a lot. We have to stay positive and continue to get prepared for the playoffs. They're like the NCAA tournament - anything can happen in a seven-game series,'' injured All-Star Caron Butler said.
``We've seen upsets, we've seen strange things happen. The playoffs isn't anything but matchups, and if you pose a good matchup problem, you've got a chance. We feel like we could still do some things.''
Butler's use of the word ``we'' is a tad misleading, because he won't be suiting up for the first round of the playoffs - though he did say he wants to be ready if Washington makes the second round.
Butler (broken right hand) and All-Star point guard Gilbert Arenas (left knee surgery) have been out since early April, leaving the Wizards with one go-to guy, Antawn Jamison, and a lot of retooling to do.
``From the moment that Gil and Caron went down, we've been written off by everyone,'' said Antonio Daniels, who replaced Arenas in the starting lineup but bruised his back in a hard fall during a game last week. ``We support each other, we believe in each other, we believe in our coaching staff. With the team we have right now, the chemistry's coming.''
Still, the NBA's top teams have 82 regular-season games to get ready for the playoffs. The Wizards?
``We've had about eight,'' Jarvis Hayes said. ``These games are not games where, even though we're in the playoffs, we can essentially rest a lot of guys, because we've got to tune up. We've got to take these last two games ultra-serious to get ready.''
What success Washington has the rest of the way could depend on Daniels' health. He missed Sunday's 101-68 loss to the Bulls - a defeat Darius Songaila acknowledged ``might have hurt the confidence a little bit'' - and said he couldn't even run that morning.
But Daniels was dribbling and shooting Monday and said he felt ``a lot better.'' Neither Jordan nor Daniels would say whether he'll face Orlando.
``We were creating a new sort of chemistry and he was the lead of that,'' Jordan said. ``We want him to be at the top of his game, health-wise,'' for the playoffs.
 

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