- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

Sometime this morning, the Washington Wizards should learn whether two days off were enough to get leading scorer Gilbert Arenas back on his feet and ready to play.

The Wizards (15-13), who dropped a 108-103 decision at Boston on New Year’s Eve without Arenas, hope to have the point guard and his 22.7-point average back in the lineup for today’s home matinee against the lowly Atlanta Hawks.

After suffering from flu-like symptoms in recent days — the night before the Boston game, he passed out twice in his hotel room and required three stitches to close a gash in his head — Arenas didn’t practice with the team yesterday in the hope he’ll be able to play today.

“I didn’t want him to play after looking at him [before the Celtics game] and evaluating him during the pregame process,” coach Eddie Jordan said. “Even today he is still under the weather. I didn’t want to jeopardize the chemistry [Friday] night because of him being out of it. He couldn’t have played that game at a high level, and [trying] probably would have set him back another day.

“We want him to play at 12 [today], so we felt the night off would be beneficial for our efforts on Sunday against Atlanta,” Jordan said.

After a 12-6 start mostly against bad teams like the Hawks (5-22), the Wizards have struggled against much better opposition. However, they have yet to lose three consecutive games and are still significantly better than at this point last season, when they were 8-20 and already had endured four four-game losing streaks.

“When you look at the schedule that we had and that fact that we are where we are without [key] personnel and not having guys back as healthy as we would like, 8-8 in December is a record a lot of teams would take,” Jordan said. “Now we start January off with a homestand. The two losses to Boston and Detroit still hurt, and they are lying in our stomach like a bad oyster. We really want to get that out of our system.”

Games against the Hawks and Tuesday’s opponent, New Jersey, are as a good a place to start as any.

Combined, the Hawks and the Nets are 27-55 (.329), and the Wizards are 3-0 against them this season.

While Arenas’ availability remains uncertain, Kwame Brown is almost certain to miss his third game in a row and 16th of the season. The swelling in Brown’s right ankle, which he injured against Charlotte on Dec.2, has yet to go down, and Brown says he still doesn’t know exactly what is wrong.

The team’s injury report lists Brown’s injury as a strained right ankle tendon.

Brown said he was considering seeking an outside opinion as early as tomorrow.

“Every time I try to do something, it swells up on me,” he said.

“I kind of understand what [former teammate Jerry Stackhouse] went through last season. It’s almost to the point where I want to play and whatever happens, happens. But I know that is not the smart thing to do.”

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