- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2005

An upbeat Larry Hughes was at MCI Center last night for the first time since he broke his right thumb in the final two minutes of the Washington Wizards’ victory over Phoenix last Saturday, suggesting he’s trying to get back on the court in about a month’s time.

“I’m looking on the bright side of four to six weeks,” the right-handed Hughes said, referring to the team’s timetable for his return. “Definitely before six weeks — that’s my goal. With it being my right hand, I want to make sure everything is solid before I get back because naturally that hand has been hit a lot.”

Hughes’ impact was apparent in Washington’s first two games without him. Against San Antonio on Monday night, the Wizards were held to a season-low 73 points. The next night at Dallas, the Mavericks scored an NBA season-high 137 points to beat the Wizards by 17.

The league leader in steals at 2.82, Hughes has put up numbers worthy of an All-Star Game selection. He is averaging career highs in points (21.2), rebounds (6.1) and assists (5.3).

In other injury news, power forward Kwame Brown will have his right ankle immobilized in a walking boot for the next three weeks. This week Brown saw a foot specialist in Los Angeles who diagnosed him with posterior ankle impingement (inflammation).

“It’s going to be a slow process, and whatever it’s going to take, we want him to get 100 percent healthy,” coach Eddie Jordan said. “He’ll probably be in a boot for three weeks, and we’ll evaluate it and we’ll go from there, but it’s probably going to be longer. That’s just a coach’s guess.”

For Hughes, last night was difficult. He watched the San Antonio and Dallas games on TV, then called Gilbert Arenas, Jared Jeffries and Jarvis Hayes and told them to keep their heads up. However, he also had some stern words clearly intended to light a fire under his teammates.

“It wasn’t the same team that I’ve been on, [the one] I’ve watched,” said Hughes, wearing a splint on his thumb. “The guys were not being aggressive on both ends of the court. They were letting both teams do whatever they wanted to do at both ends. Hopefully, these guys will get back to playing our type of basketball.”

Hughes said he is not troubled he will not play in the All-Star Game on Feb.20. Rather, his focus when he returns is making sure the Wizards make a strong push for the playoffs.

“I’m not down. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason,” Hughes said. “I’ll be back stronger. I have confidence. Just getting my edge back is all I’m concerned about, getting that edge and going out there and taking control and being a good player.”

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