- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2006

CHICAGO — Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said yesterday Caron Butler might be available for tomorrow’s game at Verizon Center with Cleveland.

“Probably Sunday, probably,” Jordan said when asked about the soonest possible day for Butler’s return from a sprained thumb. “We’re going to give it another 48 hours and then we’ll see.”

Butler’s return would be huge for the Wizards (39-40), who have lost all five games since the forward was injured at Boston on April 5.

Snapping the losing streak is crucial for the Wizards, who are tied with Indiana and Milwaukee for the fifth seed in the East with just three games remaining. Only two games separate teams five through nine.

“It seems like it’s always like this,” Jordan said of the logjam in the East. “It might not be four and five teams but it always seems like there are at least two or three.”

Before he got injured, Butler was averaging career highs in points (17.3), rebounds (6.1) and field goal percentage (45.3).

Butler was unavailable for comment before last night’s 103-101 loss against the Chicago Bulls. However, he was able to shoot without any discomfort to his right hand. He is still unable to palm the ball, but Jordan was optimistic that healing has begun.

“We’ll be especially happy if he can go out there and not have a lot of ill effects because of the thumb, like getting the ball where he can have physical contact and not shy away from it,” Jordan said.

At the time of his injury an argument could have been made that the Wizards were playing perhaps their best basketball of the season, having won nine of 13 games.

But Butler’s injury forced the Wizards to insert their best reserve, guard Antonio Daniels, into the starting lineup. And while Daniels has played well as a starter, the bench’s production has fallen off drastically.

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