- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 12, 2003

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan saw this coming.

“How many did we get tonight?” Jordan inquired after his team committed 24 turnovers in Friday night’s 103-83 preseason loss to Philadelphia at Greensboro Coliseum. “The effort is there. The physical effort is there. Is the mental effort there? That is the question.”

Washington has turned the ball over 48 times in its last two losses, dropping its preseason record to 1-2. The Wizards’ sloppiness with the ball also has contributed to poor shooting. Against Philadelphia, they made just 34 percent, slightly worse than against Toronto in the previous game.

Mostly because these games don’t count yet, the Wizards aren’t particularly concerned. Jordan said he anticipated turnovers would be a problem early in the preseason as the team strives to get a handle on its new offense.

“Are we going back to the drawing board? Not necessarily right now,” Jordan said. “The effort is there, but we have to find a way to channel that energy to make the right play.”

The Wizards will get a chance to correct the situation Tuesday, when they resume play at Memphis. However, the health of leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse is of more immediate concern.

Stackhouse had his ailing right knee — which is believed to be sore and at the moment and does not require surgery — looked at further by team doctors yesterday. He and team officials are considering having him sit out the rest of the preseason in the hope that he will be able to play when the regular season opens Oct.29 in Chicago, but right now no one is giving any guarantees.

Point guard Gilbert Arenas said learning the offense — the team’s biggest non-physical roadblock — is a challenge and learning it without Stackhouse creates another problem the Wizards must circumvent.

“It’s hard for us, but we have to learn how to play without some of our players because that’s what happens during a season,” Arenas said. “He’s a key focal point in our offense, and we have to learn how to play without it. The better we do this, the better it will make us in the regular season.”

With Stackhouse unavailable against the Sixers, Jordan started rookie Jarvis Hayes in his place. Hayes had two points on 0-for-3 shooting in 14 minutes.

The game also saw the return of second-year man Jared Jeffries. Jeffries, out of the lineup since he tore the ACL in his right knee in December against Dallas, had four rebounds and four turnovers in 17 minutes.

Those two will get most of the minutes in Stackhouse’s absence, leaving the team inexperienced at small forward.

“They’re going to have to learn because Stack is out right now. Let’s see who’s going to step up and make more consistent plays at either end,” Jordan said.

Jeffries is feeling close to 100 percent.

“I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t really think about it any more,” he said. “It’s getting stronger. The big thing is that I have to get my timing back. I feel like I’m doing everything out of rhythm right now. But it will get back. You have to be patient.”

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