- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Even though Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan had separate meetings yesterday with Gilbert Arenas and Kwame Brown, both players indicated afterward the friction between them is far from resolved.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know what he’s looking for,” Arenas said of Brown. “He gets the ball as much as anybody else. No one else is complaining. Most of the time I’m giving him the ball. He said people were worried about numbers. If you’re worried about touches, then obviously you’re worried about numbers. I just say do what it takes for your team to win.

“Look, when I’m having a bad game or somebody else is having a bad game and he has 20 [points], I don’t hear him complaining.”

Following their worst loss of the season Sunday, a 113-85 rout by the Milwaukee Bucks, Brown didn’t mention any names but said the Wizards had “one guy with OK numbers, but he’s shooting.”

He clearly was talking about Arenas, the team’s $65million point guard. Arenas led the Wizards with 21 points against the Bucks on 7-for-21 shooting. The next highest number of shot attempts was 13 by Juan Dixon.

Jordan, who team sources said spent at least a half-hour talking to each player, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Arenas returned to the starting lineup eight games ago after being sidelined with a severely strained abdomen. While Arenas was out, Brown became the team’s second option behind Larry Hughes, who has missed the last five games with a broken wrist.

Brown, selected with the top pick overall in the 2001 draft out of high school, has been a disappointment most of his career. However, he recently has shown signs of turning the corner. In a recent 19-game stretch Brown averaged 14.3 points and 8.5 rebounds.

But against the Bucks, Brown took only four shots in 23 minutes and finished with six points and two rebounds.

Arenas suggested yesterday Brown is feeling some pressure because he has not performed up to the level of other players who went the preps-to-pros route, such as Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James.

“Maybe he sees all those guys who came out of high school and turned into studs, and he’s a little bit frustrated over that because he feels he needs to be there,” Arenas said. “And we want him to get there. I’m going to try my best to get him there.”

Brown, who is averaging 10.4 points and seven rebounds, said the assumption was not accurate.

“I don’t feel like that,” Brown said. “To me, I don’t get pressure like that. If I felt pressure about being the number one pick, I would take every shot, but I’m not. I’m trying to play team ball, and this is what this is about.”

Brown maintained yesterday his comments were directed at everyone and said — again without being specific — that the offense recently has been changed to accommodate other players.

“Coach changed the whole offense up for certain people,” Brown said. “We changed it because certain guys were complaining. I think we need to stop complaining and play ball. What I said I said for the whole team, not just one guy.”

Such squabbling is typical for bad teams, and these days the Wizards (16-38) are as bad as it gets.

The Milwaukee loss marked the fourth time in the last five games the Wizards have been beaten by 20 points or more. The five-game losing streak equals the longest of the season, and Washington has had six losing streaks of at least four games and leads the league with 26 double-digit losses.

They will try to put their issues behind them tomorrow when they play at Toronto. It won’t be easy. Though the Raptors will be without injured All-Star guard Vince Carter (sprained ankle), the Wizards have won a league-low five road games.

“This stuff, we’ll get past it,” Arenas said. “Right now we’re all forcing things, probably trying to do more than we can because we want to get out of this. We’re going to have our differences. This is what happens on bad teams.”

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