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 WASHINGTON (AP) -Maybe it's because they know they made the playoffs after an 0-5 start last season.
Maybe it's because they know they have two past All-Stars in the starting lineup and figure a third, Gilbert Arenas, eventually will return.
Maybe it's because they know they can't possibly continue to lose and lose and lose, over and over and over again.
Whatever the reason, the Washington Wizards profess they are not worried, even if they are the only NBA team without a victory this season. Even if a loss to the Northwest Division-leading Utah Jazz on Wednesday night would drop Washington to 0-6 for the first time in franchise history.
``It's early,'' co-captain Antawn Jamison said after practice Tuesday. ``Not even close to pushing the panic button.''
Really?
There isn't any concern about the season slipping away?
tler, Washington's other captain and 2007-08 All-Star.
``But 0-5? We're cool. (If we were) 0-20? Yeah, I'm in Tahiti right now, mentally. But we're fine right now.''
Actually, coach Eddie Jordan believes very little is OK at the moment.
``The young guys have to stop making mistakes. The older guys have to stop making mistakes,'' Jordan said. ``It's everybody.''
His team has failed in close games, such as an overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, and has been blown out, such as a 25-point loss to the Orlando Magic. Jordan sees problems on both offense - which certainly suffers from the absence of Arenas - and defense - which might be suffering even more from the absence of injured center Brendan Haywood.
Heading into Tuesday, the Wizards ranked last among the NBA's 30 teams in both of the major defensive statistical categories: opponents' points per game (108.8) and opponents' shooting percentage (50.2).
The Wizards' defense had taken a step forward last season under the tutelage of new assistant coach Randy Ayers, and much effort was made to funnel foes toward the 7-foot Haywood in the paint. But he is out four to six months after surgery on his right wrist.
``He was the anchor of the whole defense,'' reserve forward Darius Songaila said. ``He was right there at the back. Everybody knew he was there. He was always talking and pointing and affecting shots and changing shots.''
if missing Haywood and leading scorer Arenas - no one seems to be sure when he'll be back from his third knee operation in 1 1/2 years - weren't enough, the Wizards also could be without Arenas' primary backup, Antonio Daniels, against Utah.
Daniels missed Saturday's rout at Orlando because of a sore right knee, and he skipped practice Tuesday, instead riding a stationary bike and doing stretching exercises.
Meanwhile, Butler tested some goggles Tuesday to protect the nasty gash that was glued together right above his left eyelid. He was hurt when he bumped heads with Orlando's Mickael Pietrus.
``We're going through our pain and agony right now,'' Butler said. ``This is a low. We're going to have many highs this season.''
Perhaps.
A year ago, after all, five consecutive losses to begin the season were followed by six consecutive victories.
``I hate to say it, but five games in, we still haven't played with that fire and that energy we normally play night in and night out with. That's something that definitely needs to change, and we need to do it as soon as possible,'' Jamison said.
``There's a certain swagger about ourselves that we've been playing with for the past couple of seasons that so far hasn't been there,'' he added.
The numbers haven't been there, either.
averaging 17.6 points and 7.2 rebounds after being one of only two Eastern Conference players to average 20 and 10 last season.
One bright spot so far is second-year guard Nick Young, whose 16.6-point scoring average put him second in the league among NBA reserves entering Tuesday.
``Some of our players have probably done better than expected up to this point, so you have to feel good about that,'' team president Ernie Grunfeld said. ``But basketball's a team game, and if you're going to win, you need contributions from all your players, and we're not getting that right now.''
As the defeats have started to pile up, at least one player admitted he has had to deal with some ribbing.
Young is getting an earful from a certain someone about his winless Wizards.
``I hear it from my mom every day: 'You going to get a win?''' he said. ``After we lose: 'What happened?'''
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