- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

ORLANDO, Fla. Some NBA players will go out of their way to make it known if they have an injury, no matter how big or small it may be.
Not Larry Hughes.
Hughes knows that he has not had the impact that many expected of him when the Washington Wizards signed him to a three-year, $15million contract.
But Hughes is the silent type, perhaps the quietest player in the Wizards' locker room following games. He speaks only when spoken to. And unless he's asked, the last thing he's going to tell you about are the nagging injuries that have hampered his play in the early stages of the season.
What he wants known is that he's comfortable with his new team.
"I'm finally starting to feel healthy," said Hughes, who is coming off of impressive games in back-to-back victories against Milwaukee and Detroit. "I had the knee problem early on. That's starting to get better, and now I'm able to be quicker to the ball. Now it's starting to feel better, and my wrist is starting to feel better. If I'm healthy, I can do a lot of things out there."
Hughes suffered a bruised left knee in the Wizards' season opener against Toronto. And even though the injury is not severe, it has forced Hughes to tone down his game.
More recently, Hughes was forced out of a game against Indiana because of a sore wrist.
However, as the aches and pains begin to mend, Hughes is beginning to have an impact. When the Wizards (8-10) ended their six-game losing streak with a 103-78 victory over Milwaukee, Hughes finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
But Hughes was even better one day later in the second game of a back-to-back series. Facing the physical Detroit Pistons, the 6-foot-5, 185-pound guard grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds to go along with 17 points as he recorded his first double-double of the season.
Perhaps more important to the Wizards, who face the Orlando Magic tonight, was the return of Hughes and his quickness at the defensive end. Hughes' defense completely frustrated Milwaukee's Sam Cassell, whom he forced into an awful shooting performance (3-for-12) and limited to just nine points.
Following the victory over the Detroit that extended the Wizards' winning streak to two games, both Michael Jordan and coach Doug Collins noted the impact that Hughes can have on a game when he's healthy.
"We told Brendan [Haywood] to just keep a body on Ben [Wallace] and that we would handle the boards," Jordan said. "Larry used his size and helped out big time."
Said Collins: "Larry was fantastic. He's got 19 rebounds in the last two games. One of the things we did when we changed our team and went to a bigger backcourt we put Larry back there at 6-5. Larry can do a lot of those things for us."
One thing Hughes wants to do is demonstrate that he is the complete player he was envisioned to be when the 76ers selected him with the eighth overall pick out of St. Louis following his freshman season.
For whatever reason, every team he's played for has experimented with playing him as a point guard though his primary strengths are as a shooting guard. But Hughes, just 23, has learned that to be successful in the NBA, a player has to be able to be versatile.
"That's my goal," Hughes said. "My goal in this league is not to limit myself to playing just one position. Coming up, you wanted to be a 'hundreds' player. You wanted to be able to play 1-2-3, a hundred and twenty three. I can play more than one position, and I think I can help the team out at more than one position."

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