Haywood, Thomas have altercation

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Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan benched starting center Brendan Haywood and reserve center Etan Thomas last night because of an altercation between the two players at Monday’s practice, according to two team sources.

Haywood came off the bench to play 34 minutes in last night’s 90-78 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Thomas did not play at all.

Before the game, Jordan announced Michael Ruffin would start in Haywood’s place at center. Haywood finished the game with nine points and nine rebounds.

Jordan said Haywood was being benched for violating an unspecified team rule. Jordan mentioned nothing about Thomas but since he is not a starter — and because he has played a limited role for the team this season — no questions were asked about whether or not he would play.

According to three sources, a heated argument took place between the two players during Monday’s evening practice, the first since the All-Star break. Two sources said blows were exchanged, while a third source simply maintained that the two were clearly at odds with each other.

Haywood had no comment after the game.

John N. Mitchell

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