- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2003

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Wizards placed Gilbert Arenas on the injured list yesterday with a severe abdominal strain, but Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld was happy to hear the point guard felt he could have played last night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

“You always like the fact that a guy thinks he’s ready to contribute,” Grunfeld said before game. “We’re just going to have to monitor the situation. You have to be careful with it and not think that he’s 100 percent if he’s not. If he is, he’s the one that knows.”

Arenas, who suffered the injury Sunday in Seattle, knows he’s not 100 percent, even if he hates to admit it. He sat on the team’s bench before the game, hugging a basketball against his waist.

“I can hit spot-up 3s,” Arenas said.

The injured list usually requires a player to sit out five games, but the Wizards left their roster at 11. Because they didn’t add anyone to the active roster to replace him, Arenas can come back sooner.

“Oh, it hurts,” Arenas said. “It doesn’t hurt when I go up and down. But as soon as I turn my foot to the left and move or whenever my abs contract, that’s when it hurts.

Arenas joins last year’s leading scorer, Jerry Stackhouse, and Mitchell Butler on the injured list.

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, hopeful Arenas’ return will come sooner rather than later, said the next stretch of games — the Wizards play five of their next six on the road — will provide a huge test.

“Either they go one of two ways,” Jordan said of the Wizards. “This is an opportunity to step up and make more opportunities out of your playing time or use it as an excuse and say, ‘We just don’t have Gilbert, we won’t play as hard, we won’t win, we won’t be good.’ And I would think that locker room would step up.”

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