- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2005

Antawn Jamison, the most valuable player on the Washington Wizards’ casualty list, could return to the lineup Sunday when the Wizards play at Boston, apparently ending any thought that the tendinitis in his right knee is more serious than originally reported.

“It’s nothing serious,” Jamison said by phone last night. “I just want to take all the precautions. I’m doing everything to be ready for Sunday, and it’s looking pretty good. Really, it’s not anything that a couple days of rest won’t cure.”

Jamison, perhaps the most accommodating player in the league, didn’t speak to reporters after yesterday’s team practice at Georgetown’s McDonough Arena. But later he said, “It’s just been frustrating. I’ve never been through this before in my life, and I just don’t want to talk about it every day.”

Jamison missed the Wizards’ 93-83 loss to New York on Tuesday night, ending his league-leading streak of 386 consecutive games played. He last sat out April 19, 2000, when he was a member of the Golden State Warriors.

If Jamison doesn’t play Sunday, he could return Monday against the Los Angeles Lakers at MCI Center. At worst, Jamison said he’ll be available for the team’s five-game Western Conference trip beginning March 22.

“It’s feeling better — I probably could have finished the Charlotte game,” Jamison said. “That was the first time I felt real pain. I just don’t want to go out there and hurt my team.”

If Jamison returns Sunday, it will be a welcome boost for the depleted Wizards. Yesterday at practice, coach Eddie Jordan had just seven players available. Idle were Gilbert Arenas (knee), Kwame Brown (ankle), Etan Thomas (flu), Anthony Peeler (flu) and Juan Dixon (knee).

“We’re really banged up right now,” Jamison said. “The good thing about this long break is that we will get a chance to get healthy.”

Jamison’s return to health is paramount to success for the Wizards (33-26). A first-time All-Star, the team’s third-leading scorer (20.0) and leading rebounder (8.0), Jamison teams with Arenas (25.4) and Larry Hughes (21.7) to form the highest scoring trio (67.1) in the league.

Winners of just three of their last 10 games, the Wizards have a one-game lead over Cleveland (32-27) for the fourth seed (and homecourt advantage in the first round) in the Eastern Conference playoffs

Earlier, the Wizards endured 20 games without Hughes, who broke his thumb Jan. 15 against Phoenix. Now the star guard has a nagging back injury, and Arenas has struggled since injuring a knee in a hard fall a week ago against Golden State.

Before Jamison left in the second half of Saturday’s two-point victory at Charlotte, it was clear the knee was bothering him although he never admitted it. In his last four games, he has failed to score more than 13 points.

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