- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2003

Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas aggravated his strained abdomen Friday and will be lost to the team indefinitely.

“He’s having a little discomfort,” coach Eddie Jordan said yesterday following the team’s practice. “He is going to go back to rehab.”

The Wizards (7-15) have no timetable on Arenas’ return. The original injury last month forced him out of eight games before he was activated for Friday night’s 110-91 loss to Minnesota. Losers of 13 of their last 17 games, the Wizards hope he’ll be healthy within a week.

For now at least, he is not expected to go on the injured list, which would automatically force him to miss a minimum of five games.

“We think he’ll need a few days to reassess where he is,” Jordan said as the Wizards prepared to play equally lowly New York (7-16) tonight at Madison Square Garden.

In his first action since Nov.23, when was injured in Seattle, Arenas clearly was not himself Friday night. In 24 minutes, he shot 3-for-9 and finished with nine points, four assists and five turnovers.

At halftime, Arenas’ stomach tightened forcing him to ride a stationary bike when he wasn’t playing. After the game, Arenas questioned whether he returned too early. The decision to return was left to his judgment.

Arenas leads the Wizards in scoring (20.0), assists (5.4) and steals (2.0). On the downside, he is averaging 4.07 turnovers a game.

When Arenas was activated, the Wizards were forced to place utility man Mitchell Butler on the injured list. Butler won’t be eligible to return until Dec.26.

With Arenas out, Jordan will reinsert rookie Steve Blake into the starting lineup. Jordan also will stick with Jared Jeffries as his starting power forward. Blake had started three previous games before returning to the bench Friday. The rookie from Maryland was on the floor in the second quarter when the Wizards reserves erased a 16-point Minnesota lead and eventually evened the score 51-51 with less than two minutes to play in the half.

Second-year forward Jeffries will make his third start today against the Knicks. Starting opposite Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett, Jeffries scored four points and pulled down five rebounds. Jeffries, who is shooting 32.8 percent from the field and averaging 4.8 points, said he must become more assertive.

“It’s time for me to start showing more of what I can do offensively going to the basket and as a rebounder,” Jeffries said.

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