- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 26, 2002

Courtney Alexander has had no control over injuries that have limited him to 17 games for the Washington Wizards this season. But his attitude, by his own admission, not as good as it could have been is another story.
"I think I made the situation tougher than it had to be," Alexander said. "During that whole ordeal, I kind of hurt myself more than anybody else. I got a little down on myself. There were a lot of expectations placed on me, and I think I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself early when things weren't going my way. I couldn't find a rhythm. I think I compounded the lack of finding that rhythm with not a poor attitude but a down attitude."
The Wizards (20-20) are much more forgiving these days. They are not concerned with how Alexander feels he may have hurt the team that's yesterday's news. What they are concerned with now is that he and some of the other young players get up to speed as quickly as possible so that they can step in and help plug the holes created by injuries.
The Wizards, already reeling with Richard Hamilton out for at least another week wth a pulled groin, were forced to place Christian Laettner on the injured list with a deep thigh bruise Thursday, six days after he was activated after missing 14 games with a broken left fibula.
Hubert Davis, filling in at shooting guard until Hamilton's return, is starting to show signs of wearing down under too many minutes. In the Wizards' 94-85 victory over Cleveland on Thursday, Davis was 1-for-11 from the field in 36 minutes. Alexander, who can play both guard positions, gave the Wizards four scoreless minutes in that game, but he did provide Davis with a breather.
And at power forward, Etan Thomas filled in behind Popeye Jones in place of Laettner. Thomas was solid with seven points, three rebounds and a blocked shot in 15 minutes. Coach Doug Collins liked what he saw from Thomas
"He's been getting better," Collins said. "By far, that was the most comfortable he's been on the floor all season. But we've got to keep playing. This is a tough stretch we're in. Hopefully, [Richard] is going to be closer to getting back. If we just weather this.
"As bad as it's been, we're 4-6 in the month. With the schedule we play, I think that's pretty good. It's been a tough stretch for our guys both emotionally and physically, and we're playing shorthanded."
Michael Jordan, who had struggled in the second half of recent games, bounced back during his fourth game of 40 or more points Thursday. Jordan was seven of 14 from the floor for 16 points in the second half. On the negative side, it was the fifth time in the team's last seven games that he was forced to play 40 or more minutes.
Jordan said that now is the time for some of the younger players, particularly Alexander, to step in and take advantage of the opportunity to contribute as the Wizards prepare for a playoff push.
"It's been there,"Jordan said. "It's been there since Christian and some of these guys have been out. Etan stepped up and gave us some good minutes. But we've been begging for some of these guys to step forward. I think Doug finally got some confidence to put them in the game, and they gave us some dividends.
"But it's not a one-night thing. What we need is consistent effort from these guys every single night. I think they're starting to understand that I think that's part of their maturity. I think it's a great step in the right direction. Hopefully, the confidence is pretty high right now."
Everyone hopes this is so of Alexander. After he was traded to the Wizards in February, Alexander blossomed in the last month of the season. He averaged 22.4 points in April and appeared primed to be a major contributor this season. Instead he has averaged just 4.7 points and has become somewhat of an afterthought.
"He's right," Alexander said of Jordan's comments. "It's time for me to play the type of basketball that I know I can play."

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