- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2002

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. He won't turn any heads with his dazzling offensive game or his rim-rocking repertoire. His teammates joke with him by asking him where his knee pads are, reflecting his habit of diving for loose balls.
Brian Cardinal still has to prove himself to secure a spot on the Washington Wizards' squad, but he took positive strides toward that end while getting his most extensive preseason minutes last night as Jerry Stackhouse's 31 points led the Wizards to an 87-82 victory over the Denver Nuggets before 9,187 at Crown Coliseum.
The scrappy Cardinal scored just two points in 14 minutes but came through with two steals, four rebounds and demonstrations of hustle that could gain him a roster berth in fitting with coach Doug Collins' increased emphasis on the team's defensive presence early in the season.
That Cardinal pulled down an important rebound in the closing seconds with the Wizards (3-0) leading 85-82 made for a good capper to the night.
"He made a couple great passes, a couple great rebounds I feel very confident with him," Collins said. "When he's out there, he's in the right spots and he knows how to play. I really trust him out on the floor."
Cardinal was in the game only a short time in the second quarter before he made a pair of steals and got his hands on a couple of other passes. Midway through the quarter, Cardinal grabbed a long defensive rebound, turned and lobbed a pass to Stackhouse for a dunk.
In the third quarter, he had another nice assist, this time from the wing to Etan Thomas.
With Jahidi White out until at least the end of November following knee surgery and center Ratko Varda, who came with Cardinal and Stackhouse from Detroit in a six-player trade, out with a sore back, among other injuries, Cardinal has more of an opportunity to earn minutes.
"I'm not the kind of guy that needs to go out there and get a lot of minutes," Cardinal said. "I'm a guy that's here willing to work my tail off and get out there and make things happen."
Thomas showed good progress in his second game back since recovering from a hamstring injury, scoring nine points and staying active defensively. Collins said that in the second half, it looked like Thomas shed some of the rust he had accumulated during camp.
Stackhouse was the Wizards' offensive catalyst, getting nine of his points in the first quarter and hitting 12 of 14 from the line for the game. In the preseason opener, Stackhouse went 3-for-11 from the field with seven turnovers and sat out Monday's game. After a couple of early turnovers last night, Stackhouse got into the flow with some nice drives to the basket and also got to the line with frequency.
"I got a little game-type run it felt good," Stackhouse said. "I'm still a little sluggish in my defensive rotations but offensively I felt good."
Larry Hughes and Bryon Russell took their turns last night as the veterans who got a night off, along with Michael Jordan and Charles Oakley. But Chris Whitney also sat out because he aggravated a hip flexor injury, Collins said.


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