- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2008

Washington Wizards forward Darius Songaila received his first “DNP — Coach’s Decision” in the team’s 106-93 home loss to Detroit on Wednesday.

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said he didn’t use Songaila against the Pistons for matchup reasons and because Songaila has been hampered lately by a bothersome Achilles tendon in his left leg.

Songaila yesterday said he could have played had the team needed him, and that he didn’t want to make too much over the injury.

“It’s not that bad,” Songaila said. “If coach needed me I would have been able to go.”

This marked the second game in which Songaila has not appeared in this season. The first was a 102-88 rout at Minnesota in which Songaila was bothered by a minor sprained ankle.

When the Wizards signed Songaila two summers ago for five years and $23 million, they hoped they were getting the player who averaged 9.2 points and 4.0 assists in his last year with Chicago.

When he came back from back surgery after missing half the season to average almost 11 points a game in the playoffs, the Wizards believed they had found another strong bench component.

But Songaila is mustering just 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds a game, his worst totals since his rookie season with Sacramento in 2003-04.

“It’s a little bit frustrating but you have to do what you can do when you are called on,” Songaila said. “There is a correlation between the minutes you get and the productivity. I’m not going to complain, I just try to do my role. Some nights you might get 35 minutes, other nights you might just get 14. You just have to be ready to go.”

Pecherov getting closer

After the Wizards finished practice, rookie forward/center Oleksiy Pecherov took the court at Verizon Center to run drills with assistant coaches.

While the Wizards have said for the last three weeks that Pecherov — out with a hairline fracture in his right ankle — is about 10 days away, the feeling now is that he could make his debut with the team even sooner.

“I’m still having a hard time making hard cuts, and that’s the biggest challenge,” said Pecherov, whom the Wizards drafted with the 18th pick in the 2006 draft. “It’s getting close.”

But how close is he really?

Every time Pecherov works out he experiences swelling in the foot, which is not a good sign but is also not considered to be a major concern.

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