- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

The Washington Wizards’ glee in upsetting the Indiana Pacers 107-96 on Saturday was somewhat tempered yesterday by the news that starting guard Larry Hughes and forward Jared Jeffries are nursing injuries that could force one or both from tonight’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers at MCI Center.

There is more concern that Jeffries, who suffered a sprained ankle in Saturday’s win — the Wizards’ third in their last four games — might not play today than there is about Hughes, who has been battling a worsening case of tendinitis in his right knee.

Following a light workout yesterday at MCI Center in which neither participated, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan sounded as if he was preparing to be without the 6-foot-11 Jeffries.

“Jared is wait and see,” Jordan said. “To be honest, I don’t know if we are going to have him. I don’t think that we are going to have him.”

Jeffries, who has started 20 games at power forward this season and is averaging 5.0 points and 4.2 rebounds, said he was injured in the second half of the game when he planted his foot and “felt something pop” in the area of his Achilles’ tendon.

There is no swelling, and as of yesterday there was no indication that the injury was to the tendon, which would be a much more serious issue.

Jeffries will come in early today and get treatment, and a game-time decision will be made concerning his availability.

Said Jeffries: “It feels OK right now. It’s a little bit sore, but hopefully I’ll be able to go.”

Although Hughes leads the Wizards in scoring (19.0), he has struggled recently on both offense and defense as the nagging tendinitis gets worse with each game.

“I’ve been playing so much these last couple of weeks. It’s kind of tough right now,” Hughes said. “It’s starting to affect my game a little bit with what I want to do out there on the court.”

Hughes and Jeffries yesterday received treatment and rest, something they haven’t been able to do because of the Wizards’ grueling schedule.

Hughes said his goal was to play in all 82 games this season, and to this point he has started every game for the Wizards (13-29).

However, if the Wizards had played yesterday — one day after the Indiana game — Hughes indicated he probably would have been unable to go.

“Today would probably be tough,” Hughes allowed. “It’s bothering me. A couple of weeks ago it was bothering me, but it wasn’t affecting me and what I was trying to do out there on the court. But now it’s kind of a problem.”

The Wizards already are hurting in the injury department with both Jerry Stackhouse (knee surgery) and Gilbert Arenas (strained abdomen) on the injured list.

The Wizards did get some good news; Stackhouse participated in some light contact drills that left Jordan pleased.

“He didn’t grimace, wasn’t in pain. He went through it,” Jordan said.

If Hughes isn’t able to go, the Wizards’ options are limited. They likely will continue to start Brevin Knight at point guard. They could opt to move rookie forward Jarvis Hayes to shooting guard, or they could go with a small starting backcourt that would feature Knight and either Juan Dixon or Steve Blake.

Both Blake and Dixon have been playing well lately. Both were on the floor when the Wizards rallied from 26 points down in the third quarter only to come up short in a loss at Boston on Friday. In the last two games Blake has posted career highs in scoring, finishing with 17 against Boston and 18 against the Pacers.

“They have been playing well coming off the bench,” Hughes said. “I don’t plan on missing any time, but at the same time they have to be aware of it. If I can’t do what I need to do, they have to be able to come in and carry the load.”

Note — The Wizards likely will re-sign power forward Torraye Braggs to a second 10-day contract today.

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