- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Seen and heard last night at MCI Center:

BACK AT HOME, FINALLY — The early-season schedule has been unkind to the Wizards, especially with Gilbert Arenas and Jerry Stackhouse out of the lineup. The Wizards have played 13 of their first 21 games on the road after concluding a peculiar four-game, eight-day trip before the visit from the Magic. The road is the last place to be for the lame and young, which reflects the state of the Wizards now. The schedule does not let up for the Wizards in the immediate future. After playing at home against the Timberwolves tomorrow night, the Wizards will be on the road for three of their next four games.

TRYING TO MOTIVATE THE TEAM? — Gilbert Arenas, who already has shown himself to be an animated player, was ejected from the game near the end of the first quarter after finding fault with the referees. Arenas, out of commission with an abdominal strain, was dismayed to see the Magic put up an early fight. Tracy McGrady made both free throw attempts following the technical foul.

LATE OPENING TIP — The start of the opening tip was delayed 10 minutes after the bus carrying the sad-sack Magic had mechanical problems. A broken-down bus goes with the forgettable season of the Magic, who just concluded a 19-game losing streak with a victory over the Suns. The inertness of the Magic is not entirely surprising, given the makeup of a roster that includes accomplished Washington losers Rod Strickland, Juwan Howard and Tyronn Lue.

As one wag in the press room put it, “That is the ex-Cubs factor at work.”

THE POET AND THE SINGER, LOVE STORY — The ever-lovely Nichole Oliver, a schoolteacher, sang the national anthem before the start of a Wizards game for the second time this season. Oliver is the fiancee of Etan Thomas, the forward/poet of the Wizards.

Tom Knott

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