- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2003

The Washington Wizards hope to have Michael Jordan in the lineup when the Houston Rockets and rookie Yao Ming visit MCI Center tonight, but they don't know how much Jordan will be able to contribute in an important meeting of teams jostling for playoff position or if he will be able to contribute at all.
Jordan was kneed above his right knee while colliding with Reggie Miller in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's 83-78 victory at Indiana and has a deep bruise above the knee that required surgery last season.
"He's very stiff," coach Doug Collins said following yesterday's practice. "We'll just have to see how he is."
Jordan did not practice, instead taking ice, heat, massage and electronic-stimulation therapy, and was not available afterward. Following Tuesday's victory, however, he indicated that he did not expect to miss tonight's game.
"I got kneed in the quad area, not so much the knee," Jordan said. "It's going to be sore for the next day. We'll see how it goes on Thursday. I don't anticipate anything bad happening. Hopefully, I can get back in there."
Houston (30-27) holds the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference despite having an identical record as Phoenix. The Rockets hold the eighth spot by virtue of a superior conference record.
The Wizards (27-29) finished Tuesday night's game with nine able bodies as reserve forward Bryon Russell, who did not play in the first half against Indiana, did not return to the team's bench because of a migraine headache.
Russell is expected to play tonight, but guard Larry Hughes is out with a sprained ankle until at least mid-March. Plus, reserve center Etan Thomas suffered a fractured orbital bone in his left eye orbit when New Jersey's Richard Jefferson inadvertently hit him high on the cheek last Friday.
Thomas, who went on the injured list yesterday, has had double vision since the incident. If it does not clear up by next week, there is a distinct possibility that he will have to undergo season-ending surgery.
"We really haven't had our full compliment of guys the whole time," Collins said. "We can ill afford to lose Michael right now."
No kidding.
Jordan, who turned 40 earlier this month, is playing perhaps his best basketball of the season. In three games, two of them victories over Eastern Conference powers New Jersey and Indiana, Jordan averaged 32.6 points.
Washington's manpower shortage yesterday forced the Wizards to activate center Jahidi White from the injured list earlier than expected. White, last season's starting center, has not fully recovered from offseason surgery on his left quadriceps and has not played this season. Collins said he is not sure if White is ready to contribute.
For that matter, neither is White.
"It's been a very tough road for me," White said. "Sometimes you've got to pull through things. You know your body the best, and sometimes it's about being patient with yourself. Whatever I can do, whatever they ask me to do, whatever minutes they can give me I'll accept. I'm just happy to be back in a uniform."


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