- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2005

Defensive specialist Michael Ruffin gave the Washington Wizards an unexpected gift with his offense in yesterday’s playoff victory over Chicago.

The 6-foot-8 forward posted a season-high nine points. He came in as a 43 percent free throw shooter but made five of seven from the line. He also hit two of three field goal attempts while eclipsing his regular-season high of eight points against Detroit on Feb.1.

The free-agent pickup is known for locking up the post and getting rebounds.

“He has been doing it all year,” forward Antawn Jamison said. “Defensively, he is making it tough for those guys. He is physical. If he sees someone coming through the paint, he is going to put them on their butt. Every team needs a guy like Michael Ruffin.”

Ruffin’s career high of 14 points came when he was a rookie playing for Chicago against Boston during the 1999-2000 season. He has taken more than four shots only once this season and hadn’t made more than three free throws. The Tulsa product played 21 minutes yesterday after not playing in Game1 and totaling three minutes in Game2.

Chemistry lesson

Wizards majority owner Abe Pollin has a simple formula for Washington’s success this season.

“You have to have chemistry to win,” Pollin said after the game. “These guys all like each other; they play for each other. I’ve had some bad eggs in the past. But I don’t have a bad egg in this group.”

Pollin believes the best is yet to come for one of the NBA’s youngest teams. And the 81-year-old owner intends to be there when it does.

“Our guys are all young,” Pollin said. “They are going to get better and better. We’re going to hold this team together until we win a championship. I don’t know when that will be, but I’m not quitting until we win one.”

Double dip

Political pundit and consultant James Carville was on hand and also planned to attend last night’s Washington Nationals-New York Mets game at RFK Stadium.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Carville, a Wizards season ticket holder for three seasons. “Where else can you go, get on the subway and go from an NBA playoff game to the Nats and the Mets? This is a good spring for Washington sports fans.”

Trash talk

The first playoff game at MCI Center also meant the first playoff heckling in the downtown arena. As the Bulls shot pregame jumpers, Arlington resident Sun Hee Hong directed his smack talk toward Chicago guards Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich.

“Hey, Ben Gordon!” Hong, 24, yelled. “I hate you! Hey, Hinrich! You’re ugly!”

Hong also held a sign for post player Tyson Chandler reading, “Hey Tyson, I’m Dating One of Your Sisters Too” — a reference to Wizards center Brendan Haywood’s comment that “it’s not like I’m dating his sister” after Chandler tripped and collared Haywood earlier this season.

Low for Kwame

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said he was going to shorten his bench significantly for the playoffs and yesterday’s most notable victim was Kwame Brown.

Brown played a season-low four minutes and was scoreless. He was unavailable for comment after yesterday’s game.

Running it up

The Wizards franchise had four players score 20 points in a playoff game for the first time since April10,1974, when the Capital Bullets defeated the New York Knicks 109-92. Yesterday Gilbert Arenas had 32 points. Larry Hughes and Jamison 21 each and Etan Thomas 20.

• Staff writer John N. Mitchell contributed to this article.

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