- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2000

As the Washington Wizards draw closer to the worst start in the history of the organization, they got some news that might leave them even more unsettled for the next 48 hours or so.

Point guard Rod Strickland, who has been troubled by hamstring problems most of the season, missed practice to have both of his hamstrings examined. Team doctors determined Strickland has neither strains nor pulls in either of his hamstrings, and his condition was listed as day-to-day. But at 34, Wizards coach Leonard Hamilton was genuinely concerned about Strickland's condition.

"We'll hope for the best with Rod," Hamilton said. "I think everybody knows how important he is to us."

Strickland likely will play tomorrow when the Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia 76ers visit MCI Center, and they will need everything their second-leading scorer (14.5) and team leader in assists (7.5) has to offer. At 4-17, the Wizards are on course to match the worst start in franchise history 4-21, set by the 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets.

The Wizards, on a seven-game losing streak, have two tough games at home before heading out West for a five-game trip and the record for franchise futility could fall out there.

After the 76ers tomorrow, the Charlotte Hornets come to town Friday. The Hornets will no doubt have revenge on their minds because they were embarrassed by the Wizards at Charlotte Coliseum 95-77 in their second game of the season.

The Wizards visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 19 and the record could fall Dec. 20 at Vancouver against former Wizards center Ike Austin and the Grizzlies.

Making matters worse, forward Juwan Howard is nursing a bad back that has limited him in recent games.

"We have to be optimistic that we will come out of this," Hamilton said yesterday after conducting what he termed the most "spirited" practice in some time. "We've got to get through this, and I know we will."

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